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Search for missing three-year-old after mother ‘sent him to friend’s house for disciplinary reasons’

Elijah Vue was last seen in Two Rivers on 20 February and may be carrying his favourite blanket

Dan Gooding
Monday 26 February 2024 19:58 GMT
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)

A desperate search is currently under way for a missing three-year-old boy in Wisconsin after his mother allegedly sent him to her partner’s house “for disciplinary reasons”.

Elijah Vue was last seen at around 8am on the morning of 20 February in Two Rivers, a town on the edge of Lake Michigan.

Nearly three hours later, Two Rivers Police Department got a call from a “caregiver” reporting the boy as missing from the 3900 block of Mishicot Road.

Now, Elijah’s mother Katrina Baur, 31, is due in court on Monday facing three charges over his disappearance: one count of child neglect and two counts of resisting or obstructing an officer.

Her partner 39-year-old Jesse Vang – who Elijah was staying with at the time – is also charged with child neglect.

Ms Baur had reportedly sent Elijah to Mr Vang’s house, some 150 miles from their home in Wisconsin Dells, at least a week before his disappearance, for “disciplinary reasons”.

According to court documents seen by NBC 26, Mr Vang told officers he had fallen asleep and when he woke up the boy had disappeared.

Elijah had been staying with his mother’s partner to correct his bad behaviours, the documents said. Ms Baur told officers that she wanted Mr Vang to teach her son how to be a man.

Mr Vang’s methods allegedly included subjecting the three-year-old to time outs, such as being forced to stand for one to three hours and being forced to take a cold shower after he dirtied his diaper.

Police say Elijah Vue may have been carrying this blanket when he disappeared on 20 February 2024 (Two Rivers Police Department)

Ms Baur lives in Wisconsin Dells, according to local reports, and had not been present during the disciplinary actions carried out by Mr Vang.

However, when Ms Baur and Mr Vang appeared in court on Friday, Manitowoc County District Attorney Jacalyn LaBre said that Elijah’s mother was “aware of the tactics used and the lack of care provided” by her friend.

“This was an intentional thing by her,” he told the court.

The District Attorney added that she had lied about her whereabouts at least twice during interviews.

Mr Vang is a convicted felon, having served time most recently for conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. He was also convicted of child abuse around 20 years ago, according to documents seen by The Independent.

Two Rivers Police Department, other law enforcement authorities including the FBI and many local volunteers have spent nearly a week looking for the little boy, who weighs 45 pounds, has sandy brown hair and brown eyes, and has a birthmark on his left knee.

He may have been carrying a red and white plaid blanket, which appeared in one of the photos shared by cops.

On Sunday, the police department said dive teams were searching rivers around the town, while officers were also keeping up efforts around residential neighbourhoods.

Meanwhile, Elijah’s relatives – who told local media that they had not seen the three-year-old since he was around six months old – and volunteers from the community have also been organising searches in the area.

One local woman told ABC 2 News that she had searched caves, beaches and neighbourhoods, looking for Elijah.

“We’re all out here for the same reason, to find that little boy,” Maria Wright told the outlet. “When you see everybody you know that we are a team. Your community is one big team. We’re going to keep on and the search is going to go on and on until we find this little boy.”

However, some have appeared to try to exploit the pain being felt by Elijah’s family and the Two Rivers community, with police issuing a warning on Saturday afternoon.

“Elijah has not been located. We are aware of at least one fake video circulating social media that shows the recovery of a minor by officers,” the department said on Facebook. “Again, beware of scams seeking your money and personal information, but also those now looking to take advantage of this unfortunate incident.

“The Two Rivers Police Department is your source for facts regarding this case, and we will continue to update the community as we are able and as timely as we can.”

The department suggested fraudsters had been trying to seek out cash from those wanting to donate to the search efforts.

Anyone with information about Elijah’s whereabouts or the case is being asked to call the tip line at 844-267-6648, submit information via the app P3 or call Manitowoc County Crime Stoppers at 920-683-4466.

Callers with information leading to the location of Elijah, or arrest of anyone involved in or responsible for his disappearance could receive a reward of up to $1,000 through Crime Stoppers.

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