Mother of missing boy and companion arrested in NY, search still on for 5-year-old last seen 6 months ago

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State Police dive teams searched Naticook Lake in Merrimack over the weekend as part of the search for Elijah Lewis, 5. Photo/Jeffrey Hastings

CONCORD, NH – Law enforcement in the Bronx, N.Y., arrested a New Hampshire couple in connection with a missing 5-year-old child from Merrimack.

New Hampshire Attorney General John M. Formella, N.H. State Police Colonel Nathan A. Noyes, and Merrimack Police Chief Brian K. Levesque announced the arrests Monday in the investigation into the disappearance of Elijah Lewis.  The search for Elijah continues.

New York City Transit authority officers in the Bronx located the couple, Danielle Denise Dauphinais, 35, Elijah’s mother, and Joseph Stapf, 30 on Sunday and arrested them on N.H. warrants charging them with witness tampering and child endangerment.

The witness tampering charges allege both asked other people to lie about Elijah and where he was living knowing that child protection service workers were searching for him.  The endangerment charge alleges they violated a duty of care, protection or support for Elijah.   

Elijah hasn’t been seen for about six months although the New Hampshire Division of Children, Youth and Families only learned he was missing last Thursday. DCYF officials notified authorities the same day and Merrimack police immediately opened a case.  Later that day, state police and officials from the N.H. Department of Justice joined the investigation.

On Sunday, Oct. 17, 2021, a New Hampshire Fish and Game Dive Team were at Naticook Lake in Merrimack, adjacent to 7 Sunset Drive, conducting a search of the water.

The 7 Sunset drive residence was surrounded by crime scene tape.  Merrimack police officers have been at the scene around-the-clock since Friday.

Elijah Lewis. Photo taken May of 2020. Via NHSP

In the meantime, detectives and a member of state police Major Crime Unit were in the backyard with shovels and rakes.

The dive team and members of the crime unit left late Sunday.

Dauphinais and Stapf will be arraigned in the Bronx County Criminal Court, 215 East 161st Street in New York City, N.Y,, at 12:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 28, 2021.    New Hampshire is seeking their extradition.  If they waive extradition, they will be returned to New Hampshire for arraignment in Hillsborough County Superior Court, Southern District later this week.

Anyone with information on Elijah’s whereabouts is asked to contact the Merrimack Police Department’s Crimeline at (603) 424-2424 or New Hampshire State Police Communications at (603) 223-4381 or 603-MCU-TIPS (603-628-8477). Lead Investigator Detective Sergeant Kelly Healey, Major Crime Unit, can be contacted directly at


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Pat Grossmith

Pat Grossmith is a freelance reporter.