Elijah Vue: Detective reveals missing toddler was left in dirty diapers and banned from playing with toys

Jesse Vang, who Elijah was staying with in Two Rivers, appeared in court Thursday morning

Dan Gooding
Thursday 04 April 2024 20:38 BST
Elijah Vue's family plead for help in finding him
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Missing Wisconsin toddler Elijah Vue was banned from playing with the one toy he had in the week leading up to his disappearance over a month ago, a court heard on Thursday.

Detectives who first responded to the Two Rivers apartment where the boy had been staying with suspect Jesse Vang were on the witness stand at the Manitowoc County Court, as the 39-year-old appeared for his preliminary hearing on a charge of chronic child neglect.

Elijah Vue, 3, was last seen in Two Rivers, Wisconsin on 20 February 2024
Elijah Vue, 3, was last seen in Two Rivers, Wisconsin on 20 February 2024 (Two Rivers Police Department)

“There was one toy in the residence which was given to the child at Christmastime,” Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Office Detective Michael Herrmann told the court, as he gave new details of the tactics used on Elijah.

“However, during this stay, because it was a punishment, he was not allowed to play with that toy.”

The three-year-old’s mother, Katrina Baur, 31, had sent the boy to stay with Mr Vang on 12 February so he could “learn to be a man”. He was then reported missing eight days later and has still not been found.

Jesse Vang and Katrina Baur are both accused of chronic child neglect
Jesse Vang and Katrina Baur are both accused of chronic child neglect (Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Office)

Mr Vang allegedly admitted to police much of the tactics he used on Elijah, and some of that detail has been shared previously, including the child being subjected to lengthy time-outs, where he was forced to stand for two to three hours and pray.

In court on Thursday, new and expanded descriptions were given by both Detective Herrmann and Lieutenant Jacob Glaser from the Two Rivers Police Department, who first responded to the report that Elijah had disappeared.

District Attorney Jacalyn LaBre asked Detective Herrmann about the alleged neglect by Mr Vang, including leaving the boy in soiled diapers.

The detective said the defendant claimed he changed the child’s diaper “at least one time per day” but not necessarily each time it got dirty.

“Mr Vang advised that the child was still bottle fed,” Detective Herrmann added. “He was attempting to get the child to move to more solid or adult-style food during the time he was with him.”

“Did he withhold any food from him?” the DA asked, with the officer stating that Mr Vang had allegedly kept Elijah from drinking milk.

An Amber Alert was issued for Elijah Vue the day he disappeared, 20 February 2024
An Amber Alert was issued for Elijah Vue the day he disappeared, 20 February 2024 ( National Center for Missing and Exploited Children)

Lieutenant Glaser was then asked about messages between Mr Vang and Ms Baur, in which they discussed Elijah, as well as two photos mentioned in an updated criminal complaint in mid-March.

“The photograph depicts [Elijah] wearing what is believed to be a black blindfold and appears to have bruising to his cheek, neck and arm area,” Lt Glaser said, describing a photo found to have been deleted by Ms Baur.

The officer said that was taken in the early hours of 14 February, two days after Elijah had been taken to Mr Vang’s home.

The court later heard more details on the threats of cold water made to Elijah, should he misbehave.

The lieutenant said that on 17 February, Mr Vang messaged the boy’s mother to say the toddler had filled his diaper, which had made Mr Vang upset.

“I recall him stating that he had given [Elijah] a cold shower and that he appeared to be scared afterwards,” Lt Glaser told the court.

The next day, messages between the two defendants showed Mr Vang telling Ms Baur that Elijah “didn’t respect me... now I’m making him respect me”.

Two days later, Elijah was reported missing, with searches so far only turning up the three-year-old’s blanket.

Despite a previous attempt by Mr Vang’s defence attorneys to overturn the criminal complaint against him, Judge Robert Dewane ruled that there was enough evidence to proceed with the case against him.

Mr Vang will next appear in court for his arraignment hearing on 16 April. Ms Baur is next scheduled to appear in court on 26 April, also facing a charge of chronic child neglect, plus three other charges.

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