BOISE, Idaho — The Fruitland Police Department is scheduled to hold a news conference Wednesday at 1 p.m., to discuss new details related to the case of Michael Joseph Vaughan, who has been missing since the summer of 2021.
More than a year after the boy disappeared from his neighborhood in Fruitland, the search continues with law enforcement investigating new leads.
Michael, who is nicknamed "Monkey," was last seen at around 6:30 p.m. on July 27, 2021, in the area of Southwest 9th Street in Fruitland. At the time, he was 5 years old and described as 3 feet, 7 inches tall, weighing about 50 pounds, with blond hair and blue eyes. Michael's 6th birthday was June 24, 2022.
In a previous news conference on July 22, Fruitland Police confirmed preliminary evidence that suggests Michael's disappearance is criminal, possibly an abduction. Already, the department has looked into nearly 1,000 leads and tips that have come in from the public.
Fruitland Police Chief J.D Huff said the department has gathered a tremendous amount of data, serving 27 search warrants and triple that number in consensual searches. The most recent credible lead so far brought them back to the area in Fruitland where Michael went missing.
"It takes an intense effort, and a lot of work to document all of the leads as they're coming in. And at the conclusion of this investigation, I'm hopeful we'll find the answers. It's important that our case is organized and very strong," Huff said during the July 22 press conference.
Huff said they now believe that Michael disappeared in a smaller window of time than originally thought, around 6:40 p.m. to 7 p.m. 6:40 p.m. was when Tyler Vaughan, Michael's father, said he was in a back bedroom tending to his daughter and ordering pizza on the phone. It is unclear why police believe he disappeared within a shorter time frame.
Additionally, there have been many persons of interest in the case, but no suspects.
Huff told the media that some of the people searched and interviewed had not been cooperative with police.
"I will tell you properties, vehicles, electronic devices, you know, everything you think we will be serving search warrants on... More than likely, we've served search warrants on," Huff said.
Huff told KTVB last month that the Vaughan family had not been cleared at this time, but they are completely cooperating with law enforcement. Police have also looked into strangers, but are mainly focused on people who were close with Michael and his family.
Due to public interest in the case throughout the nation, more people have thrown out extreme theories that can make the case more convoluted and difficult to investigate.
In a phone call with KTVB, Huff said there have been issues of harassment, people involving themselves in the case and the creation of muddier waters that make it harder to follow credible leads. Regardless, Huff said he does not want to discourage tips, reiterating that all credible tips should be reported to law enforcement.
"I believe that, you know, in the midst of that, there's going to be that tip, a tidbit of information that breaks this case, and helps us bring him home," Huff said.
Last month, the department announced a new partnership with a program called Homeward Bound, which places missing children's pictures on traveling trucks and semi-trailers to spread awareness of their disappearances and hopefully bring more answers to families of the missing.
Authorities are also encouraging people to continue sharing this poster about Michael hosted by the Idaho Missing Persons Clearinghouse.
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