Autopsy Shows N.H. Boy, 5, Whose Mom Allegedly Wanted Him 'Gone,' Died by Homicide, Fentanyl Poisoning

An autopsy concluded that violence revealed by facial and scalp injuries also helped cause the death of Elijah Lewis, whose body was discovered Oct. 23 buried in the woods

Elijah Lewis
Elijah Lewis. Photo: New Hampshire Attorney General's Office

A missing New Hampshire 5-year-old whose mom allegedly told a friend she wanted the boy, Elijah Lewis, "gone," and whose remains were found last month buried in the woods, died by homicide caused by neglect, malnourishment, fentanyl poisoning and violence revealed by facial and scalp injuries, according to an autopsy report.

The autopsy results were released Monday by the New Hampshire Attorney General's Office.

Elijah's mother, Danielle Denise Dauphinais, 35, and her boyfriend, Joseph Stapf, 30, have not been charged with the homicide but remain jailed without bail on charges of witness tampering and child endangerment after their Oct. 17 arrest in New York City, the attorney general's office said in a news release obtained by PEOPLE.

Both have pleaded not guilty to the charges.

On Oct. 23, six days after the couple's arrest, authorities found human remains in a wooded area in Abington, Mass., that later were identified as the boy's. A state police cadaver dog discovered the remains buried near Ames Nowell State Park, Plymouth County District Attorney Timothy Cruz said at a news conference.

Police had been searching the woods for Lewis, who had been reported missing to police on Oct. 14 by the New Hampshire State Department of Children, Youth and Families, according to WHDH. Investigators said they believed the boy, whose last known address was in Merrimack, was last seen at his home sometime in the month before the state agency reported him missing.

Danielle Dauphinais
Danielle Dauphinais.

Elijah's mother allegedly described him last month to a friend as "the next Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer" and said she wanted him "gone."

"I call him the next Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer," Dauphinais allegedly wrote to her friend Erika Wolfe on Snapchat in June, the Boston Globe reports. "It's so sad but I have no connection with this child. His father took him at the age of one and never returned him until last May 2020. He's been getting worse and worse. I want him gone. I can't handle it anymore."

Wolfe told the newspaper — which reviewed the messages — that she and Dauphinais grew up together but had not been in contact for years. The two allegedly exchanged messages briefly in June when Dauphinais randomly replied to one of Wolfe's Snapchat messages about her experience with her own son.

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Dauphinais allegedly described to Wolfe how her son played with his own feces and urinated on his own bed and clothing.

"I have to keep him in his room," Dauphinais wrote. "I can't trust him at all."

Elijah Lewis
Elijah Lewis. Facebook

Dauphinais also allegedly revealed on Snapchat that the state's child welfare agency was involved but could do nothing without the consent of Elijah's father, calling the situation "a [expletive] nightmare that I can't wake up from."

"In my mind, I'm thinking [New Hampshire Division for Children, Youth and Families] is probably checking in," Wolfe told the Globe. "I thought, 'Oh, you're having a rough time, and probably not the best comment choices, and we all have our days.'"

After the exchange, Wolfe forgot about the messages until she heard the news of Elijiah's disappearance.

"I remembered those messages," she recalled. "And I was like, 'Oh, no.'"

"I've been provided no information to verify the veracity of these [Snapchat] messages or where they came from," Dauphinais's attorney, Jaye Rancourt, told PEOPLE last week, before the release of the autopsy results. "They very well could have been created by [Wolfe] for all I know. So until there's documentation that demonstrates that my client actually sent the messages, it's very hard for me to respond."

At the time of his reported disappearance Elijah was living with his mother and Stapf. But neighbors told the Globe they rarely saw the child outside and a Merrimack School District official said Elijah was never enrolled.

In announcing the arrests of Dauphinais and Stapf, the New Hampshire Attorney General's Office alleged in the witness tampering charge "that they each asked other people to lie about Elijah and where he was living knowing that child protection service workers were searching for Elijah," according to a news release. "The endangerment charge alleges that they violated a duty of care, protection or support for Elijah."

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