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Lemhi sheriff: DeOrr case is still ‘very active’

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SALMON – It’s been more than 18 months since DeOrr Kunz Jr. vanished while on a camping trip in Leadore.

There has been no sign of the Idaho Falls toddler, who was 2 years old when he disappeared, and nobody has been arrested.

But Lemhi County Sheriff Steve Penner tells EastIdahoNews.com the case is still very active.

“We’re working on this nearly every week,” Penner says. “We’re reviewing old information, receiving new tips and conducting interviews.”

Penner was the Lemhi County Sheriff’s Office chief deputy when DeOrr was reported missing in July 2015. He was elected sheriff in November when Lynn Bowerman retired.

Penner was one of the first investigators to respond to the Timber Creek Campground on July 10, 2015 when DeOrr’s mother, Jessica Mitchell, called 911.

“My 2-year-old son … we can’t find him,” Mitchell told a dispatcher 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.”

LISTEN | MOTHER’S 911 PHONE CALL RELEASED

Mitchell and her then-boyfriend, Vernal DeOrr Kunz, were camping with Mitchell’s grandfather, Robert Walton, and Isaac Reinwand, a friend of Walton’s.

After numerous searches of the campground and surrounding areas, no clues of DeOrr’s whereabouts have ever been found.

Last January, Bowerman named Kunz and Mitchell as suspects in DeOrr’s disappearance, but the parents were never charged or arrested. They maintain they have nothing to do with their child vanishing.

Penner has spent thousands of hours working on this case in conjunction with the FBI and the Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office.

“We’re still getting reports of occasional DeOrr sightings,” Penner says. “We investigate all of them and follow up on any new information that comes in.”

Penner won’t say if he believes there will a break in the case soon, but promises investigators are “pursuing all avenues” and won’t stop until it’s solved.

“We’re working hard. We haven’t forgetten about this,” Penner says.

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