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Search for missing Fruitland boy included garbage cans, homes and a septic tank

"Five-year-olds are crafty and can get into small places," Police Chief J.D. Huff said.

FRUITLAND, Idaho — It's now been more than a week since Michael Vaughan was last seen near his Fruitland home. The search for the 5-year-old has been extensive and continues, according to Fruitland Police Chief J.D. Huff.

Huff spoke with reporters Wednesday afternoon and said the Idaho State Police, the Boise Police Department and the FBI, along with 13 other law enforcement agencies, have assisted in the search. He estimates the number of investigative hours at around 2,500 and that does not include EMS, search crews and volunteers.

The missing 5-year-old was last seen between 6:30-7:15 p.m. on July 27, near the area of Southwest 8th Street, Southwest 9th Street and Cornwall Way in Fruitland, Idaho. 

Michael has blonde hair, blue eyes, stands about 3'7", and weighs around 50 pounds. He was last seen wearing a blue Minecraft t-shirt, dark blue briefs, and blue flip-flops. 

"You know 5-year-olds can get into almost anything, so we've looked through nearly 200 garbage cans, drained canals and irrigation ditches, pumped a septic tank in the area that had a makeshift two-by-six wooden plank lid," Huff said.

That same night that Michael went missing four different emails and texts were sent to local residents, and his image and information went out to a nationwide database known as NCIC, which stands for National Crime Information Center. 

Tips continue to pour in and Huff said they are investigating each one. So far, they've received 163 tips from the public, searched nearly 200 homes and have interviewed residents.

"The community support of our search efforts is appreciated and is a making a difference as we remain committed to doing all we can to find Michael," he said.

On Monday, teams focused their efforts again in the area near where Michael was last seen and used land, water and aerial equipment in their search of the area, according to officials.

"We have methodically and thoroughly searched over 3,000 acres of farm ground with multiple certified K-9 teams. We searched 29 miles of riverbank using private -fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters, sophisticated drones, boats, boats with K-9s, kayaks and paragliders," Huff said. Drone flights will continue as will riverbank searches by boat.

Credit: Fruitland Police
Michael Vaughan

Huff urged residents search their properties again and review any security camera footage for any trace of Michael. "Five-year-olds are crafty and can get into small places," he said.

On Wednesday morning, search crews were back out in an area below Southwest 8th Street removing heavy foliage and deploying a specialized K-9, Huff said. In the near future, dive teams will search a pond and sloughs in the same area.

"Our search effort and rescue effort will continue as long as we have the resources available to continue that," Huff added.

Anyone with any information regarding Michael's whereabouts is asked to contact the Payette County Sheriff's Office at 208-642-6006.

"On behalf of Michael's family and the city of Fruitland I sincerely extend thanks to the chiefs and sheriffs who have came to our aid providing manpower and resources over the last week, and certainly in the weeks to come," Huff said. 

Editor's Note: Check KTVB.COM for the latest on the ongoing search.

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