Lemhi sheriff opens up about DeOrr Kunz case
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SALMON — Lemhi County Sheriff Lynn Bowerman believes missing Idaho Falls toddler DeOrr Kunz Jr. will be found, even though it’s been nearly six weeks since he disappeared.
In an extensive interview with EastIdahoNews.com, Bowerman said nothing has been ruled out in the investigation, although he doesn’t believe the child was abducted.
“I think an abduction is one of the least likely events,” Bowerman said. “Grandpa was sitting within 20 to 30 yards of the only roadway into the campground, and absolutely no one was seen at that lower campground coming or going.”
Bowerman is “99 percent sure” DeOrr was at the campground with his parents, DeOrr Kunz Sr. and Jessica Mitchell, great-grandfather, Robert Walton, and Isaac Reinwand, a friend of the grandfather, when the 2-year-old was last seen.
Early in the investigation, there were conflicting reports about when the family arrived at the Timber Creek Campground in Leadore. Authorities had said the group arrived Friday, July 10, but Bowerman said the group actually arrived late on Thursday, July 9. The next morning, DeOrr’s parents said they took their son to a store about 20 minutes from the campsite.
“I don’t believe the store has a surveillance (system), but we have a receipt that shows they purchased certain items,” Bowerman said. “The time was stamped on the receipt, so we believe that’s where they went.”
When asked if the family was anywhere else during the trip, Bowerman said they stopped for diesel fuel traveling from Idaho Falls to Leadore, but the gas station doesn’t have surveillance video either.
After the Friday morning shopping trip, the family returned to camp, and DeOrr’s parents said they left the child with Walton while they went exploring.
“Isaac (Walton’s friend) was in the same general proximity,” Bowerman said. “He’s downstream, they’re upstream and they’re all within probably 100 to 150 feet of each other.”
When the parents returned, they couldn’t find DeOrr and called 911.
Weeks of extensive searches focusing on a three mile radius around the campsite resulted in nothing.
Meanwhile, Bowerman said DeOrr’s parents and Walton were questioned multiple times by Lemhi detectives.
“Those three have been very cooperative,” Bowerman said. “They’ve given us everything we ask for, and I feel real good about the parents and the grandfather.”
Reinwand has also been questioned, and Bowerman revealed Kunz Sr. and Mitchell had never met him before this camping trip.
“I’m not getting any feeling that he’s not being truthful,” Bowerman said. “He’s come up to the area on a second occasion with me, and I think he’s been very truthful and I appreciate his help.”
Bowerman said everyone at the campsite has had their vehicles and homes searched several times, and Bonneville County deputies and the FBI are now working with Lemhi County detectives.
“All four have voluntarily taken polygraphs and right now they’ve been turned over to the FBI,” Bowerman said. “We’ve given the FBI lots of items to analyze behaviorally and we’ve given them some physical evidence.”
Bowerman wouldn’t go into details about what specifically has been turned over to the FBI but he said he wants “all bases covered” to help solve the case.
“We’ll wait until we get the report from the FBI,” Bowerman said. “It’s going to be critical in this case.”
Bowerman said the FBI would have results in six to eight weeks. Meanwhile, the search for DeOrr will continue and, with hunting season starting soon, Bowerman hopes a hunter in the Lemhi mountains might discover the child.
Bowerman said his office has received hundreds of tips in this case and he continues to ask the public to contact his office at (208) 756-8980 with any information about DeOrr’s disappearance.
*An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the name of DeOrr’s great-grandfather. We regret the error and have updated the story with the correct name.