Age progression sketch of DeOrr Kunz being produced; searches to resume

DeOrr Kunz Jr.

LEADORE — Searches for DeOrr Kunz Jr. will resume at Timber Creek Campground within the next few weeks.

Lemhi County Sheriff Steve Penner tells EastIdahoNews.com he is planning to have crews back at the campsite once weather permits.

“We’re going to be there working again, and we will see where that takes us,” Penner says.

DeOrr was 2 years old when he vanished while on a camping trip with his parents, great-grandfather and a friend of his grandfather on July 10, 2015. There has been no sign of the toddler since that day, and nobody has been charged in connection to his disappearance.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children is working on an age progression photo of what DeOrr could look like today if he’s still alive, Penner said.

“They do an age progression two years after a child has gone missing and then every five years,” Penner says. “That image should be released by the end of the month or the first part of June.”

Deorr Kunz

DeOrr Kunz, Jr. | Family photo

Penner is expecting phone calls and possible sightings of DeOrr once the image is released. Although DeOrr’s parents, Vernal Kunz and Jessica Mitchell, have been named suspects in his disappearance, Penner hasn’t ruled anything out.

“I’ve said in the past that we keep everything open to every possibility,” Penner says. “In this case, obviously, the investigation has driven us further in one direction than the other but we still have to keep it open.”

Jessica Mitchell and Vernal Kunz | EastIdahoNews.com

Mitchell, along with her grandfather, Robert Walton, and Walton’s friend, Isaac Reinwand, have continued to cooperate with law enforcement, according to Penner. Vernal Kunz has hired an attorney, and “we haven’t spoken in quite a while,” Penner says.

Meanwhile, court documents obtained by EastIdahoNews.com show a lawsuit filed by Vernal Kunz, Jessica Mitchell and Dennis Kunz, Vernal’s father, against private investigator Philip Klein has been dismissed.

Lemhi County Sheriff Steve Penner | EastIdahoNews.com

The lawsuit concerned public statements Klein made about the case.

Klein was never served with the lawsuit, according to the documents, and Vernal Kunz and Dennis Kunz plan to refile the suit without Mitchell.

Penner says the lawsuit is a distraction from the fact that DeOrr is still missing.

“Two years is a long time,” Penner says. “I’m hoping for a resolution soon. It won’t come if we don’t work for it. I’ll keep working and I’ll keep looking.”

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