One Year Later: The DeOrr Kunz Mystery
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LEADORE – It was a warm summer day. July 10, 2015.
A two-year-old Idaho Falls boy, his parents, great-grandfather and a friend of great-grandpa were on a camping trip in Lemhi County.
The group was at Timber Creek Campground – a remote area about 10 miles west of Leadore. It’s an average campsite with a shallow creek being fed water from the nearby Stone Reservoir.
“My 2-year-old son…we can’t find him,” DeOrr’s mother, Jessica Mitchell, told a dispatcher during a 911 call made around 2:30 p.m. that day. “He was wearing cowboy boots, pajama pants and a camo jacket, and he’s got shaggy blond hair.”
So began one of the most mysterious missing persons cases Idaho has ever witnessed.
Mitchell and Vernal DeOrr Kunz, DeOrr’s father, say they believe their son was abducted.
Robert Walton, DeOrr’s grandfather who was on the camping trip, has refused to comment publicly on the case.
Isaac Reinwand, a friend of Walton who was also on the trip, says he was fishing when the toddler disappeared and doesn’t know what happened.
Lemhi County Sheriff Lynn Bowerman has named Kunz and Mitchell suspect’s in DeOrr’s disappearance. He says they either accidentally or intentionally killed the boy, but no arrests have been made in the case.
It’s been 365 days since the now three-year-old vanished. As far as we know, there has not been one shred of evidence as to where the child could be. Not a piece of clothing, toy truck, sippy cup, cowboy boot, blanket – nothing.
WATCH: LEAD CRIMINAL INVESTIGATOR GIVES ONE YEAR UPDATE ON DEORR KUNZ INVESTIGATION
Later this month, EastIdahoNews.com will release a special video presentation on DeOrr’s disappearance. It will feature new interviews and previously unreleased footage from people intimately involved in the case.
Today we take a closer look at who those people are.
DeOrr Kunz Jr.
– He was born Dec. 30, 2012, in Idaho Falls to Jessica Mitchell and Vernal DeOrr Kunz.
– His nickname is “Little Man,” and his parents say he never went anywhere without his blanket, his cup or his stuffed monkey.
– His parents say he was wearing large cowboy boots, pajama pants and a camouflage jacket the day he disappeared.
– Mother of DeOrr Kunz, Jr. Former fiancée of DeOrr’s father, Vernal DeOrr Kunz.
– Has two other children from a previous relationship.
– Maintains she and Kunz left DeOrr with her grandfather as the couple went to explore Timber Creek Campground. When they returned, their two-year-old was gone.
– Believes DeOrr may have been abducted.
– In January, Lemhi County Sheriff Lynn Bowerman named Mitchell a suspect in DeOrr’s disappearace. Bowerman said the child was either accidentally or intentionally killed.
– Investigators say Mitchell’s account of what happened at the campground has repeatedly changed over the past year.
– Mitchell has never been arrested and says she has nothing to do with DeOrr’s disappearance.
– Mitchell recently married a local man, and the couple lives in Idaho Falls.
Vernal DeOrr Kunz
– Father of DeOrr Kunz Jr. Former fiancé of DeOrr’s mother, Jessica Mitchell.
– Truck driver who recently moved out of state.
– Maintains he and Mitchell went to explore Timber Creek Campground and left their son with Mitchell’s grandfather. When they returned, DeOrr was gone.
– Believes DeOrr may have been abducted from the campground.
– In January, Bowerman named Kunz a suspect in DeOrr’s disappearance. He said the child was either accidentally or intentionally killed.
– Investigators say Kunz’s account of what happened at the campground has repeatedly changed over the past year.
– Kunz has never been arrested and says he has nothing to do with DeOrr’s disappearance.
– Grandfather of Mitchell and great-grandfather of baby DeOrr.
– Accompanied Kunz, Mitchell and DeOrr on trip to Timber Creek Campground.
– Walton frequented Timber Creek in his younger years, according to family members.
– Walton is elderly and requires an oxygen machine to breath properly.
– Detectives have named Walton a “person of interest” in DeOrr’s disappearance. He has never been named a suspect.
– Walton lives in Idaho Falls with his daughter.
– Walton is the only person on the camping trip who has not spoken publicly about the case.
– Walton asked Reinwand to accompany the group on the camping trip.
– Reinwand had never met Mitchell, Kunz or DeOrr before the day of the trip.
– Reinwand and Walton drove to the campsite separately from the others in the group.
– Reinwand has been named a “person of interest” in DeOrr’s disappearance but never a suspect.
– Reinwand says he was fishing at Timber Creek Campground when DeOrr disappeared.
– Investigators say Reinwand’s account of what happened at the campground has remained consistent over the past year.
– Reinwand lives in Idaho Falls.
– Reinwand says he has not spoken with Kunz and Mitchell since the camping trip. He maintains contact with Walton.
– Sheriff of Lemhi County since 2010.
– In January, he named Jessica Mitchell and Vernal Kunz as suspects in DeOrr’s disappearance. At the time, he said DeOrr was likely intentionally or accidentally killed.
– Last week, Bowerman said the case is moving ‘more and more towards being a homicide (case).’
– Bowerman is not running for re-election and will retire when his term ends in December.
– Chief Deputy with the Lemhi County Sheriff’s Office and the lead investigator in case.
– Has supervised numerous volunteer and professional searches of Timber Creek Campground over the past year.
– Penner ran for Lemhi County Sheriff this year and won. He will take office in January 2017.
– In August, Vilt volunteered to serve as Mitchell and Kunz’s private investigator.
– Claimed DeOrr was likely abducted from the campground and offered a $5,000 reward for information on the case.
– Terminated relationship with Mitchell and Kunz in September after accusing the couple of lying about the case.
– Senior private civil investigator with Klein Investigations based in Nederland, Texas.
– Hired and paid for by Kunz family in November.
– In February, Klein released his findings and announced DeOrr was intentionally or accidentally killed.
– Kunz family terminated relationship with Klein in March 2016. Klein claims an anonymous individual is paying him to continue to investigate.
– In March, Klein told EastIdahoNews.com that Mitchell “knows where DeOrr’s body is but refuses to say where.”
– In June, Klein conducted a search of Timber Creek Campground and claims to have found new evidence.
– Idaho Falls based attorney representing Vernal Kunz and Jessica Mitchell.
– Claims Mitchell and Kunz had nothing to do with DeOrr’s disappearance and it’s likely a wild animal snatched the chid from the campsite.
– Says his clients are suing Klein for defamation after the private investigator continues to make statements about the case.
EastIdahoNews.com will continue to provide comprehensive coverage of DeOrr’s disappearance during the month of July.
If anyone has any information that may help solve this case, you’re asked to contact the Lemhi County Sheriff’s Office at (208) 756-8980.