For months, the Lemhi County Sheriff’s Office has been inundated with phone calls from people asking if donating money to the parents of missing Idaho Falls 3-year-old DeOrr Kunz Jr. was recommended.
These calls have prompted Lemhi County Sheriff Lynn Bowerman to announce on Monday that DeOrr’s parents, DeOrr Kunz Sr. and Jessica Mitchell, have been named as suspects in the boy’s July 10 disappearance.
“Everybody needs to make that decision on their own,” Bowerman said about donating money. “But they need to know that mom and dad are being less than truthful, and they can make a decision on whether to donate based on that.”
Bowerman said on Monday that the statements made by DeOrr’s parents to the authorities have repeatedly changed over the course of the investigation.
“We’ve interviewed them multiple times, and every time there are changes to parts of their story,” Bowerman said. “The little things all change every time we speak with them.”
Bowerman said polygraph tests were administered to the four known people who were with DeOrr when he disappeared. These four people were the boy’s parents, his grandfather Robert Walton and family friend Isaac Reinwand.
Walton’s and Reinwand’s polygraph tests came back inconclusive. But Bowerman said authorities were expecting that because Walton and Reinwand had undisclosed health problems known to affect polygraph results.
However, Bowerman said the polygraph tests indicated that the boy’s parents were not being upfront with some of the authorities’ questions.
“We re-interviewed them, but they weren’t willing to tell us the truth,” Bowerman said.
The last interview with the parents was conducted this past weekend.
Out of the four suspects interviewed, Bowerman said Reinwand’s story has been the most consistent. However, all four are still considered persons of interest in the case, the sheriff said.
“They were at the scene, so we won’t rule them out,” Bowerman said. “But in terms of persons of interest, I think mom and dad are higher on the list.”
Bowerman did not know if or when any warrants or charges could be filed in the case. He also said authorities are still trying to determine what happened to the little boy.
About a week ago, Klein Investigations and Consulting, a private detective firm hired by DeOrr’s family, said its investigation found that the boy was most likely either murdered or accidentally killed.
“We don’t want an issue of double jeopardy or filing the wrong charges,” Bowerman said. “We don’t want to charge anybody with something like a homicide and find out later the boy’s death was accidental.”
The younger DeOrr was on a family camping trip at the Timber Creek Campground near Leadore, about 115 miles northwest of Idaho Falls, when he vanished on July 10.
According to Bowerman, the parents told authorities that they were heading down to a creek located near their campsite to go fishing with Reinwand. The younger DeOrr, who was 2 years old at the time, was following them.
When his parents asked him if he wanted to go fishing or stay with Walton, DeOrr headed back toward his grandfather. This was the last time the parents said they saw the boy.
Walton told authorities he last saw DeOrr near the bank of the creek. According to Bowerman, the grandfather told police he took his eyes off the boy for a moment, and when he looked back toward the creek bank, DeOrr was gone.
A massive month-long search of the campground and the surrounding area ensued, but no trace of the boy has ever been found.
“We had all the resources in place,” Bowerman said. “We put the helicopters in place, we had good scent dogs, and we had a volunteer search-and-rescue team. We should have found that child.”
The Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office and the FBI have also been working on the case in conjunction with the Lemhi County Sheriff’s Office.
Bowerman is encouraging anybody who has information on the whereabouts of DeOrr Kunz Jr. or who has information relating to his disappearance to contact the police.