Autopsy reveals 5-year-old boy died of violence, neglect — and fentanyl intoxication

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Authorities said Monday that the death of 5-year-old Eliza Lewis, whose remains were found in a Massachusetts park last month, has been treated as a homicide.

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New Hampshire officials began a search for the boy on October 14, after New Hampshire’s Division of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) drew officials’ attention to his disappearance. However, his mother Daniel Dauphinés did not report his disappearance.

After searches in five states, law enforcement officers discovered the boy’s remains in a Massachusetts woods on October 23.


Ms Dauphinés, 35, and her boyfriend Joseph Staup, 30, were arrested on 17 October and charged with witness tampering and endangering children.

The New Hampshire Department of Justice said in a press release Monday that the chief medical examiner’s office in Massachusetts has determined Eliza’s death was homicide.

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“Elijah’s cause of death was violence and neglect, including facial and scalp injuries, acute fentanyl intoxication, malnutrition and pressure ulcers,” the statement said.

Earlier, reports said that Ms Dauphinés had complained to her friend about her son and compared him to a serial killer.

“I call him the next Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer,” Ms. Dauphinés wrote in a text message about her son to her friend, Erica Wolfe. Bundy and Dahmer were both notorious serial killers.

“It is very sad but I have nothing to do with this child,” the message read.

Ms. Wolfe sent texts to a relative the day before Ms. Dauphinés’s arrest, when she saw reports that Eliza was missing. The family member reportedly sent the texts to the police.

The boy was living with his mother for less than a year and before that with his father. Reports said Eliza’s father had called Ms Dauphinés “violent and impulsive” and claimed she had a “history of domestic violence and substance abuse”.

In her messages to Ms Wolfe, she also said she did not trust her child. “It’s getting worse and worse,” she told Ms. Wolfe. “I wish he was gone. I can’t handle it anymore,” said one of the messages.

Ms Dauphinés and her boyfriend have been held without bail on charges of witness tampering and child endangerment, the charges remain and they are presumed innocent until proven guilty, officials said on Monday.

In a release on October 18, the Justice Department said that the allegation of witness tampering stemmed from the fact that the couple had allegedly told other people to lie about Elijah and where he was living. Knowing that Child Protection Service workers were looking for Elijah.

“The threats allege that he has breached Elijah’s duty of care, protection or support,” the release said.

Officials said the manner of death has been ruled out, with the circumstances of his death still under investigation.


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