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Authorities fear missing New Hampshire boy won't be found alive

Authorities said Elijah Lewis, 5, hasn't been seen in more than a month.

A 5-year-old New Hampshire boy reported missing last week is unlikely to be found alive, New Hampshire's senior assistant attorney general said Friday.

Though Elijah Lewis was reported missing Oct. 14, authorities said previously that the Merrimack boy hasn't been seen by people outside his household for six months. In recent days, however, they said further investigation has turned up at least one sighting of the boy since mid-September.

On Friday, police searched Ames Nowell State Park in Abington, Mass., about 72 miles north of Merrimack.

"We were hopeful that Elijah would be found alive," Ben Agati of the New Hampshire attorney general's office said during a news conference at the park. "We're now facing the prospect that he is not. And we do have a belief at this time that Elijah is deceased."

It's not clear if there's specific evidence leading prosecutors to believe the boy is dead.

"Information has been developed to lead us to this search of this wooded area," Plymouth County, Massachusetts, District Attorney Timothy Cruz said at the news conference.

Image: Elijah Lewis
Elijah LewisNew Hampshire Dept. of Justice

On Monday, Elijah's mother, Danielle Denise Dauphinais, 35, and a man NBC Boston described as her boyfriend, Joseph Stapf, 30, were charged with witness tampering and child endangerment in association with Elijah's disappearance.

The two were arrested in New York City. They pleaded not guilty Wednesday to the charges.

In a statement regarding the charges, New Hampshire prosecutors alleged the pair asked people to lie about Elijah's whereabouts and violated "a duty of care, protection or support for Elijah."

The office of New Hampshire Attorney General John Formella said at the time that Elijah had not been seen by "independent individuals" for six months. On Friday, however, the office reiterated that the boy is now "believed to have been missing for less than 30 days" prior to his reported disappearance.

On Oct. 16 and 17, authorities searched a Merrimack lake property where Elijah was last thought to have lived.

Authorities said the Massachusetts park would be searched again Saturday.

"We will be here until all leads have been followed up," Massachusetts State Police Col. Christopher Mason said at the news conference.