On Saturday, Jan. 16, a private investigator hired by the family of DeOrr Kunz, Jr., released his findings in the case of the missing Idaho Falls toddler.
Philip Klein of Klein Investigations and Consulting believes DeOrr was killed – either accidentally or on purpose. Klein and his investigators have ruled out the possibility that the child was taken by an animal or abducted.
Klein agreed to participate in a Skype interview with EastIdahoNews.com reporter Nate Eaton to answer further questions on his investigation. Below is a transcript (slightly edited for clarity) of the interview.
We’ve reached out to the Lemhi County Sheriff’s Office for the latest on their investigation into DeOrr’s disappearance. We are waiting on a response.
Nate Eaton, EastIdahoNews.com: You guys issued a statement on Saturday morning that got a lot of people talking. You announced you have narrowed down your investigation.
Philip Klein, Klein Investigations & Consulting: Right. Let me give you a little base history on it. What we did was we came into this case cold. That means we didn’t discuss our case with law enforcement and we didn’t discuss it with anyone. We came in only knowing that there were four people on a mountain and a child had disappeared.
We started to re-create this case all the way from the beginning. There were three theories that we had come up with in the beginning.
First – the possibility that there had been an animal that had gotten the child and killed the child.
Second – that it could have possibly been an abduction situation or what we call ‘forced abduction.’
Third – it could have been a possible homicide.
We began to build this case back up from the ground level. We’ve now done over 80 interviews, 500 man hours of investigation, (taken) countless sworn statements and what we’ve come up with simply is this:
There was not an animal that took the child in this situation.
There was no forced abduction. This includes the black Rubicon (theory). We can find no corroborating statements and no corroborating witnesses. We can find nothing that can corroborate this. So we are absolutely, beyond a reasonable doubt sure was not an abduction case.
That leaves us with one last possible theory: that the child could have died up on mountain either accidentally or possibly with intent. So now we are sinking our teeth into that part of the case and we’re developing that part of the case.
Eaton: Either way, it sounds like you’re saying DeOrr is not alive.
Klein: It is our firm’s belief, and the nine investigators involved in this case, that we do not believe that DeOrr Kunz is alive.
Eaton: Where do you guys go from here?
Klein: Where we go from here is pretty simple. We are continuing to develop our case regarding two possible (scenarios).
Number one – that an accident happened up there and DeOrr is possibly still up there and that he just was missed.
The second (scenario) is there was an intended removal of the body from that area. Our concern continues to be, as we have visited with a lot of the first responders that were there that day and witnesses that were there that day, that none of the dogs were able to hint on any scent. We are concerned with that.
We are also concerned with other information from folks that have come forward regarding (auxiliary) issues up on the mountain that day.
What we are going to do is totally focus on those witnesses and those leads and we still have, I’d say, five maybe six really good active leads still working.
I think that there’s going to have to be a re-creation again of that day. This time I think all the forces coming together re-creating that day.
What I mean by forces is we are actively working with our information and providing it to law enforcement. We’ve met with law enforcement and I believe we’re all on the same page on this.
I think some witnesses are going to be brought back in and re-interviewed and I believe that law enforcement has begun that process.
At this point we will be coming back up to Idaho very shortly and we will be re-doing those (interview) so the focus now is on the four folks that were up there that day.
We’re not blaming anybody, we’re not accusing anybody. Now it’s time to focus on those four people and let’s get to the bottom of this thing.
Eaton: Are you expecting a big break soon?
Klein: I don’t know about a big break. I think it will happen faster than we even thought. I think we’re satisfied that the case is moving faster than we thought it would move. I think we are focused on the incident of that day – the timeline. There are some things that match, some things that don’t match. I think we go back through that timeline and we try to piece together that day.
Eaton: Have you ever seen a case like this in your professional experience?
Klein: Our firm has done over 900 missing children’s cases and we’ve been successful at over 90 percent of those cases. This is kind of one of those cases that matches a few that we’ve done before but there are some elements to this case that, right when you think you’ve seen it all, you haven’t. I would probably classify this case as being one of those where, we thought we’d seen it all, but now it’s a little bit different.
I think there’s a lot of ‘why’ questions that need to be asked. I think we know ‘how’ we’re just trying to figure out why and I think that’s where this case is.
Eaton: Have all of the four people up there (DeOrr Kunz Sr., Jessica Mitchell, Robert Walton, and Isaac Reinwand) been cooperating with you?
Klein: I would say three have been cooperative. There is one that has hired legal counsel and we have been unable to interview him and that would be Isaac Reinwand.
I think it’s been very public that he has hired counsel and that’s his right under the law. We have tried to make contact with his counsel but he has not returned our phone calls. We have tried … going to Isaac’s home and visiting with him before we knew he was represented by counsel and he declined to interview with us, although he did say he would be willing to come interview with us with his counsel present. His counsel has made the decision not to let him make any statements at this time. The other three folks that were up there, — mom and dad and the grandfather –have all given us sworn statements and we are analyzing those now.
Eaton: There are thousands of people intrigued by this case all over the world. It’s bigger than just an east Idaho case. Is there anything you want all of those people to know?
Klein: What I’d say to the folks out there in the social media world is that we realize this is a very emotional case. You look at that little boys face and I’m not gonna tell you that there have not been some tears shed by some very seasoned investigators both male and female.
I would probably send this message: stop the conjecture, stop the rumors, be good citizens, ask your questions and we’ll answer as we can on social media. We don’t just sit there on social media watching.
If we have something to say pretty much everybody will be there to be able to hear it. If you know something, say something. We’ve had some excellent tips on social media and I mean some really good ones. We’re really proud of the social media crowd.
We’re asking everybody just to take a breath and take a step back. This is about a little boy and this is about the family of this little boy and this is about the city of Leadore and Idaho Falls and the state of Idaho and this is about the United States of America and how something like this can happen.
You know folks – it happens every day of the week. This is not our only missing child case and this is not the only possible accidental or intended case.
So take a step back, take a breath and realize before you hit the button that posts it for the world to see, that you think about your words and re-read your words because words mean things and it hurts sometimes.
I realize there’s a lot of people out there in the social media world that think we’re Superman and can come in with our white capes and solve this situation immediately. This is a six-month case and we’ve been involved now seven weeks and I feel we’ve moved the case along.
Law enforcement is doing a bang-up job from the FBI in Idaho Falls all the way to Quantico headquarters. I can’t say enough about the sheriff up there in Leadore. I can not say enough about the sheriff in Idaho Falls and the great job their team is doing and the dedication of these men and women in this case on all sides.
We’re getting there. We promise you we’re getting there. This is a very solvable case. We will get there, but you must understand that this case is now going to a prosecutorial phrase very quickly and we need to do it right for the citizens of Idaho.
We need to do it right for the victim, most importantly, which is DeOrr, and the family – we need to do this right and we need to give you answers.
We realize we need to give you answers and we will give you answers, but please just give us a little bit of room to do our work. We’ll get there, we promise. It may not be as fast as you want it to be, but we will get there and again we’re dedicated to this case.
All the rumors that we’re going to leave this case are absolutely just debunked. All of these rumors that there’s going to arrests this weekend or the next few days is just debunked.
We have some work to do. Law enforcement has work to do. Prosecutors have some work to do and we have some work to do. So let us do our work and we’ll bring you the answers to your questions.
Eaton: Mr. Klein, thank you very much.
Klein: You’re very welcome.