Police demand ‘less distractions’ from ‘social media sleuths’ in search for missing toddler Elijah Vue

Three-year-old missing for nearly three months in Wisconsin

Dan Gooding
Wednesday 08 May 2024 16:50 BST
Family of Elijah Vue asks court to deny any requests from Katrina Vue to reduce her bond

Police have demanded that social-media sleuths back off as the search for a missing three-year-old boy in Wisconsin enters its third month, describing the efforts as a “distraction”.

Elijah Vue went missing on 20 February in Two Rivers, Wisconsin from the home of his mother’s friend, where he had been staying for “disciplinary reasons”. His mother, Katrina Baur, and friend, Jesse Vang, have since been charged with chronic child neglect.

A large-scale effort to find Elijah has been underway since, with the Two Rivers police department, and the FBI among the lead agencies on the case. The Wisconsin department of justice division of criminal investigation (DCI) has now taken over, and search efforts have included drone flights and divers entering storm drains and rivers.

The only sign of the three-year-old has been the discovery of his red-and-white plaid blanket early in the investigation.

Police on Tuesday addressed rife social media rumors related to a volunteer group, Midwest EquuSearch, which claimed that it has been banned from taking part in searches for Elijah.

“This is incorrect, misleading and serves as a distraction away from our efforts to find Elijah,” Two Rivers Police Captain Andrew Raatz said in a statement on Facebook.

“We have been in contact with many volunteer search organisations, as we work hand in hand to coordinate efforts.

“In our conversation with EquuSearch we utilised their expertise and they confirmed we are currently using the best technology and resources available.”

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 (FBI)

On Facebook, EquuSearch backed the police statement and described the case of the missing boy as “a heartbreaking situation”, while urging followers not to lose focus.

Investigators said on Tuesday that the search for Elijah is very much active.

“The search for Elijah continues this week with searches conducted by canine units and the use of equestrian resources,” Captain Raatz said.

“In addition, we continue to follow up on tips and leads. Investigators continue analysing an extremely large amount of video and other data with assistance from federal and state agencies.”

Captain Raatz said in his statement that, in Elijah’s case, police would remain the “sole source of factual information” which will be released when available.

“Thank you once again to our community, near and far, for all your efforts,” he said. “Your support and assistance are greatly appreciated as we all strive to achieve our mission of finding Elijah.”

Elijah disappeared after being sent to the home of Mr Vang in Two Rivers, a two-hour drive from where he lived with his mother, Ms Baur, in Wisconsin Dells.

The mother sent the child off to “learn to be a man,” according to criminal complaint documents.

Mr Vang later told police that he subjected the boy to lengthy time-outs and threats of cold showers if he misbehaved.

In the days leading up to Elijah’s disappearance, he was pictured wearing a blindfold with bruising on his face, neck and arm in photos investigators found on Ms Baur’s phone, which she allegedly later deleted.

Ms Baur, 31, and Mr Vang, 39, have been charged with chronic child neglect and face separate trials this summer.

Jesse Vang and Katrina baur both face charges of chronic child neglect
Jesse Vang and Katrina baur both face charges of chronic child neglect (Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Office)

Ms Baur recently asked for a second time to be released without bond - a motion which was denied by the judge.

“There’s too much at stake, there are too many unanswered questions,” Judge Robert Dewane said during the motion hearing on 30 April.

Detectives who gave testimony at an earlier hearing explained how the boy was banned from playing with the single toy at Mr Vang’s home, because he was there as punishment, and left in dirty diapers.

Ms Baur made the two and a half hour journey from her Wisconsin Dells home to Two Rivers a few times in the days leading up to Elijah’s disappearance, with the pair leaving him alone at the house at one point.

At Ms Baur’s bond hearing last week, the boy’s uncle Orson Vue said the mother had “allowed Elijah to suffer abuse and neglect”.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in