LEMHI COUNTY -- The Lemhi County sheriff announced Monday that the parents of missing toddler DeOrr Kunz Jr. have been named suspects in his disappearance.
Sheriff Lynn Bowerman told KTVB that Jessica Mitchell and Deorr Kunz Sr. have been "less than truthful" since the investigation began.
"They refused to give us any further information to clear up the untruthfulness and they've changed their story on numerous occasions," he said.
DeOrr Kunz Jr. was reported missing July 10, 2015. His parents told authorities the boy disappeared during a family camping trip near Leadore. Search teams combed the area, but found no trace of the toddler.
Bowerman said he believes DeOrr's parents know where he is and whether he is dead or alive.
"They're not able to tell the same story twice because they've told so many stories, you know, getting changes in the story all the time," he said.
Bowerman says when he confronted the parents, they refused to give any additional information to clear up their inconsistencies.
The pair are not under arrest, and no warrants have been issued. Bowerman said he has met with prosecutors, the FBI and the Bonneville County Sheriff's Office and plans to take his time and make sure the case is solid before bringing charges against Mitchell and Kunz.
"We don't feel that the arrest is imminent, but we're leaving all options open," he said. "We don't want to jeopardize the investigation and charge them too early, for fear that we might find DeOrr and it might change."
Private investigators with Klein Investigations and Consulting hired by the family said earlier this month they had ruled out the possibility of an abduction or attack by a wild animal in DeOrr's disappearance.
Bowerman said he still hopes the public can help investigators by contacting authorities with any information that could help the investigation.
"We're asking the public at this time to come forward with any information that they might have concerning the parents and their interaction with their son DeOrr that they might have witnessed," he said.
The sheriff stressed that the naming of suspects in the case did not mean the hunt for the toddler was being pushed to a back burner.
"I want to find Deorr. That's my top priority. He's my victim here. That's my goal is to find Deorr Kunz and to solve this investigation," said Bowerman.
DeOrr is now three years old. He was two when he disappeared, but he turned three on Dec. 30.
The sheriff says he was holding off naming the parents as suspects because he wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt, and to see if any other information would come out that would prove otherwise.
Sheriff reponds to fundraising questions
Bowerman also says he wanted to release this information because his office has gotten a lot of calls from the public about whether they should donate money to help find DeOrr.
On Jan. 16, the family held a dinner, raffle, auction to help raise money to pay for the private investigator.
Trina Clegg, Jessica Mitchell's mother and DeOrr's grandmother, says the family has raised $15,000, and every penny of that is going to pay for the private investigator out of Texas.
We asked the sheriff about fundraising efforts, here is what he had to say:
"I'm getting a lot of calls from the public - should we donate money to help find Deorr Kunz? And I can't honestly say yes or no knowing that the family is less than truthful. I think it's only fair that the public knows that they are suspects that we are continuing our investigation and that they aren't being truthful."
DeOrr's grandmother says the family is no longer asking for money, but the website -- Miracles For Little Man -- will remain online.
Trina Clegg says someone else is running the website. Any future money that comes in will go toward other missing children's cases.