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Treatment ordered for woman arrested in Michael Vaughan case

A Payette County judge on Monday issued a commitment order for Sarah Wondra, who's charged with failure to report a death.
Credit: Payette County Jail
Sarah Wondra, 35, of Fruitland.

PAYETTE COUNTY, Idaho — Editor's note: Story updated Dec. 14 with information about where Sarah Wondra is being held.

Days after ordering a competency evaluation for Sarah Wondra, the woman charged in connection with the disappearance of Michael Vaughan, a Payette County magistrate judge has determined Wondra is currently mentally unfit to proceed.

Wondra's attorney appeared in court via Zoom Monday morning for a status conference. Judge Brian D. Lee reset the conference for the morning of Friday, Dec. 23. A preliminary hearing previously set for Tuesday, Nov. 22, had already been vacated.

Online court records show Lee on Monday also issued a commitment order, pursuant to the Idaho law about determination of fitness to proceed in a criminal case. Wondra was transferred to custody of the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare for treatment. Court records show that on Dec. 6, she was placed in State Hospital South in Blackfoot.

The commitment order indicates she was found unfit to assist in her own defense. Therefore, proceedings against Wondra are on hold.

Wondra, 35, was arrested Nov. 12. She was one of the occupants of a house on Redwing Street in Fruitland that investigators began searching a day earlier, after receiving a lead that came from what Fruitland Police Chief J.D. Huff called "a very credible tip" related to the disappearance of Vaughan, who was 5 years old when last seen in his Fruitland neighborhood in July 2021.

Wondra is charged with failure to notify or delaying notification of a death, a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $1,000 fine if found guilty. At her initial court appearance on Nov. 14, the judge ordered a competency evaluation. A report on the evaluation was completed three days later.

Idaho does not have an "insanity defense," but under state law, "no person who, as a result of (mental illness), lacks capacity to understand the proceedings against him or assist in his own defense shall be tried, convicted, sentenced or punished... so long as such incapacity endures." Competency evaluations are conducted by at least one court-appointed psychiatrist or psychologist. 

Meanwhile, Michael Vaughan is still considered missing, and anyone with information that may help solve the case is encouraged to reach out. Submit tips to Crime Stoppers at 208-343-COPS (208-343-2677) or email findmichael@fruitland.org. 

Watch more on the search for Michael Vaughan:

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