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Fruitland Police unveil semi trailers to share Michael Vaughan’s face across US

The FPD chief said Michael’s family is not a focus of the investigation a year later, and that Michael could be anywhere – Idaho or even outside the state.

FRUITLAND, Idaho — Michael Vaughan, a boy who went missing from his Fruitland neighborhood in July of last year, will now have his face and name across three semi-truck trailers that will possibly generate new tips and leads to law enforcement.

The Fruitland Police Department is partnering with the Homeward Bound Project of Washington State Patrol, who have used semi-trailers to share missing children cases since 2018. They have generated thousands of tips with this method, said Carri Gordon, WSP Missing Persons Coordinator.

In a press conference Wednesday, the truck was unveiled to show three pictures of Michael with his name and a hotline to call with information.

“A lot of exposure for these cases and a lot of tips, a lot of new information generated for law enforcement is our goal,” Gordon said.

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.

The truck from Wednesday's news conference will be making its way to Denver, Colorado, this week.

“The trailers behind me are going to be seen by millions of travelers on highways around the country,” Gordon said. “Imagine how many eyes are going to see.”

The missing persons unit in Washington has received thousands of calls just from the trucks that drive along the highways. They typically carry retail or food items. Currently, there are 15 trailers with missing children’s faces on them in the U.S.

Fruitland Police Chief J.D Huff did not give much of an update on the investigation of the case as it is a criminal one, but he did make it clear that the family is not a focus of the investigation after going through thousands of searches and leads. He said there are multiple plausible leads that law enforcement is working at the moment.

“Could he be out of state? Yes,” Huff said. “So the best way to get Michael’s information out there is going to be on these forms of transport that travel from state to state and potentially another country.”

Huff looked at Brandi Neal, Michael’s mother, and told her directly that he agonizes with them over the disappearance of her son, and that they will not stop looking.

Neal made a statement, where she said that she thanks law enforcement for continuing to look for Michael, and she believes he will come home.

“If you know something, please say something,” she said. “Monkey, I love you baby, you’re coming home.”

Full news conference:

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