Elijah Vue’s grandmother ‘doesn’t know what changed in daughter’ before she ‘sent toddler son away to be a man’

Search for three-year-old passes two-month mark

Dan Gooding
Friday 26 April 2024 22:51 BST
Volunteers search for Elijah Vue in Steven Avery’s salvage yard, without connecting evidence

The grandmother of missing toddler, Elijah Vue, says she is at a loss to explain what “broke” inside her daughter before she sent her son away to learn “to be a man”.

Jodi Baur spoke this week about her “really sweet” grandson, and daughter Katrina Baur’s apparent “cold” response to his disappearance.

“She always said Elijah was her little ray of sunshine,” Ms Baur told local TV station WISN12 on Wednesday. “Her entire life revolved around those kids. I don’t know what broke. I don’t know what changed.”

Elijah, aged three, vanished on 20 February in Two Rivers, Wisconsin. The child was reported missing from the home of Jesse Vang, a friend of Ms Baur, where he had been sent to live by his mother for “disciplinary reasons”. The property is more than two hours away from Ms Baur’s home in Wisconsin Dells.

Katrina Baur says that she asked Mr Vang, 39, to “teach her son to be a man”, according to court documents. Mr Vang subsequently told police that he had subjected the three-year-old to lengthy time-outs and threatened him with cold showers if he misbehaved.

On the morning he disappeared, Mr Vang said he went for a nap at 8am and told Elijah to stand at the foot of his bed. When he woke up, the toddler was gone and Mr Vang called police just before 11am.

Jesse Vang and Katrina Baur are both being held on chronic child neglect charges
Jesse Vang and Katrina Baur are both being held on chronic child neglect charges (Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Office)

Searches have continued for weeks for the little boy, with Two Rivers Police Department leading the investigation.

Volunteers, including Elijah’s family, have also been looking for him. Searches have included the infamous Avery’s Salvage Yard just outside of Two Rivers which was part of the Netflix series Making a Murderer.

Elijah’s red-and-white blanket was found early in the search, four miles from where he was last seen.

Mr Vang was arrested on 20 February on charges of chronic child neglect. Ms Baur was taken into custody the following day also on child neglect charges and resisting an officer. Both have pleaded not guilty. Mr Vang will appear in court on 28 June, while Ms Baur is set to appear on 30 April.

Jodi Baur last spoke with her daughter on 1 March not long after she was arrested. She said that her daughter appeared to believe her son had just disappeared on his own.

However her daughter has shown little emotion about Elijah’s disappearance. “She was calm. She was. I think the investigators had called me that night, said she was cold. Whether she was detached or in denial, I don’t know,” the grandmother said.

Elijah Vue, aged three, disappeared on 20 February from Two Rivers, Wisconsin
Elijah Vue, aged three, disappeared on 20 February from Two Rivers, Wisconsin (Two Rivers Police Department)

“It was the mama bear, the anger, the instinct, the hysteria that was missing that just, it just hit me wrong.”

She noted that her daughter had struggled with drug addiction for over 20 years. The grandmother petitioned the court to keep her daughter in jail in early March, claiming she was a “flight risk” in a written statement.

“Watching your kid fall is the hardest thing in the world. You always want what’s best, but you can’t get it. It’s their life. So that’s hard,” Ms Baur said on Wednesday.

She also spoke about spending time with her daughter and grandson.

“We’d take him to the beach. He loved going to the beach. He was just a really sweet kid,” Baur said.

Katrina Baur’s attorney reportedly met with prosecutors on 26 April to discuss the case. Her lawyer has asked that her bond be lifted as she cannot pay it so that she can be allowed out of jail.

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