Mother of NH boy found dead in October charged with murder

Published: Apr. 18, 2022 at 3:45 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 18, 2022 at 6:42 PM EDT
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MERRIMACK, N.H. (AP) — The mother of a 5-year-old New Hampshire boy who was found dead in Massachusetts last fall has been charged with murder, authorities said Monday.

Danielle Dauphinais, 35, was indicted Friday on one count of first-degree murder alleging she purposely caused the death of Elijah Lewis, one count of second-degree murder alleging she acted recklessly in causing his death, and three counts of witness tampering.

The boy was last seen at his home in Merrimack in September or October, and child welfare officials notified police he was missing Oct. 14. After a state police dog found his body in the woods in Abington, Massachusetts, on Oct. 23, an autopsy showed he died of “violence and neglect.”

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Massachusetts determined the boy suffered “facial and scalp injuries, acute fentanyl intoxication, malnourishment and pressure ulcers.”

Dauphinais was later arrested in New York, and she and the man she was with, Joseph Stapf, 30, were charged with witness tampering and child endangerment.

Her attorney did not immediately return a call seeking comment Monday.

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