Fruitland Police held a press conference Thursday to provide updates in the case of 5-year-old Michael Vaughan, who they believe was abducted after exhausting all ground search efforts.
Vaughan was reported missing on July 27, when he was last seen near his residence at Southwest Ninth Street in Fruitland.
According to Fruitland Police Chief J.D. Huff, the search for Vaughan will not stop until the boy is found.
“The effort may look different from time to time, but those in law enforcement know he is the top priority,” Huff said.
There is an increased probability that Vaughan was abducted, Huff said, due to no headway being made in ground searches.
Collaborating agencies have been following every lead, with 557 tips called in as of Thursday. Huff said a majority of them have been cleared, but several are still being investigated. Most credible tips lead nowhere, he said.
“We are steadfast in our commitment to bringing Michael home safely,” Huff said.
Huff elaborated on the exhaustive ground search efforts of local police, state police and the FBI, adding that other police forces from states like Utah, Alabama and California have also helped in the effort to find the boy.
Huff said on Monday, Idaho Mountain Search and Rescue conducted searches in the backyards of homes throughout the street where Vaughan was last seen.
On Tuesday, all agencies assisting in the case searched nearly 1,000 acres of farm ground, according to Huff.
Brandi Neal, Vaughan’s mother, spoke on behalf of the Vaughan family at the press conference, where she pleaded with the public to keep her son’s face in their hearts and minds.
“It’s been 115 days. He has not been home, and we need every one of you,” Neal said. “I need you. I need your help to bring my baby home.”
Neal spoke about the joy Vaughan brought to their family, recalling his blue eyes and contagious laughter. Neal referred to the photo of him posted on missing person’s flyers, which was from a time she recalls as Vaughan’s favorite camping trip, where he caught frogs, got ice cream, and saw his first beaver dam.
Neal said she wants the public to know how much he is loved and missed.
“If you know anything at all, if you know something, please, I am begging, this is my baby, this is my son. I need him home,” she said.
Huff said more ground searches were conducted due to the changing weather — police wanted to make sure more ground was searched before snowfall.
There have not been any other updates regarding two vehicles that were seen around the time and in the area of Vaughan’s disappearance: A white Honda Pilot and a blue Dodge Avenger.
Police are also trying to identify a man with dark hair, wearing a white T-shirt and black shorts who was seen walking in the area around the time of Vaughan’s disappearance.
In the press conference, Neal thanked the officers and agencies helping to search for Vaughan. She added that they have become family during the search for her son.
“He is their son, too,” she said.
Anyone with any information is urged to contact the Fruitland Police Department at 208-642-6006, extension 0 or contact the department through its tip line at firstname.lastname@example.org. A tip leading to Vaughan’s safe return will be rewarded with $50,100. The reward is available through March 2022.