The campout in a remote patch of the Idaho mountains promised a fun time for 2-year-old DeOrr Kunz, who went on vacation with his parents, grandfather and his grandfather’s friend.
With the assurance that “Grandpa Bob” Walton would keep an eye on him, DeOrr’s mom, Jessica Mitchell, and father, who is also named DeOrr Kunz but also goes by Vernal, walked off from the campsite to go fishing on July 10, 2015 — but when the boy’s dad returned, the son they lovingly called “Little Man” was nowhere to be found.
More than two years later, the enduring mystery of what happened to the still-lost little boy is the focus of tonight’s episode of People Magazine Investigates, which airs at 10 p.m. ET on Investigation Discovery.
After DeOrr’s parents called 911, law enforcement believed the boy had wandered into the woods surrounding the Timber Creek campground, outside of small-town Leadore, Idaho, about 130 miles northwest of Idaho Falls.
But with no sign in the hours and days that followed, new theories arose. Had little DeOrr drowned in a river? Did wild animals drag him away? Had someone abducted him?
Answers remained elusive. Then, as the parents willingly submitted to several lie-detector tests in an effort to guide the investigation, their accounts of events leading up to the disappearance began to diverge.
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The Lemhi County Sheriff’s Office made DeOrr’s parents the focus of the investigation, and the local community that had swiftly responded with vigils and support began to question their stories and ridicule Jessica and DeOrr Sr., who always have denied any involvement in their son’s disappearance. To this day, the parents believe the boy is still alive.
Sheriff Steve Penner tells PEOPLE that none of the four adults on the campout have been cleared, and that age-progressed images of young DeOrr — who would turn 5 next month — have produced reports of sightings across the country that his agency and others continue to chase down, to no avail. “It’s still an open investigation,” he says.