‘We want him home.’ Extensive search efforts for a missing Fruitland boy continue

Police are still looking a missing 5-year-old boy who was last seen Tuesday evening near his home in Fruitland.

Members of the community as well as several law-enforcement agencies have been involved in extensive search efforts over the past few days.

Agencies involved include Payette Police, Idaho State Police, Idaho Mountain Search and Rescue and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, according to Fruitland police Chief J.D. Huff.

Michael Joseph Vaughan was last seen Tuesday in the area of South Arizona Avenue and Ninth Street in Fruitland, where an open field adjoins the edge of a residential neighborhood. The site is a few blocks from the Fruitland Police Department, where Huff held a news conference Saturday afternoon.

“Our goal is to find him, and we’re going to continue hunting,” Huff said. “We’re not going to leave any stones unturned.”

Efforts have included a “methodical search of the area near Michael’s residence,” which included draining two irrigation runoff ditches, Huff said. Idaho Fish and Game have been searching several miles of the Payette River, which runs close to where the boy was last seen.

Teams with canines and drones with infrared imagining capabilities have been involved in the investigation, Huff added.

Though members of the public have been involved in organizing search groups, police are now asking residents to let the professional search teams work unimpeded.

“We’re asking for the public to stay out of those areas and let us search (them) with these certified search teams,” Huff said. “They’re professionals and they know what they’re looking for.”

But police are asking residents with property nearby to search their land and any outbuildings, and to review any surveillance video they may have from their property.

“We’ve got a 5-year-old kid out there,” Huff said. “He can wander in and out of places super easy, into people’s backyards.”

Police are also asking for anyone who was in the area Tuesday evening to come forward.

“Even if you don’t believe you have something that’s relevant … we want you to contact us so we can re-create a complete picture of the time that Michael was last seen,” Huff said.

Police are especially looking to determine Michael’s whereabouts between about 6:30 p.m. and 7:15 p.m. on July 27.

“If you were in that area or know someone who was, please contact us at 208-642-6006, extension 0,” Vaughan said.

At the news conference, Huff declined to discuss any leads or details related to the ongoing investigation.

Michael, who is blond and has blue eyes, was last seen wearing a blue Minecraft T-shirt, black boxer briefs “with green trim” and blue flip flops.

He is 3 feet, 7 inches tall, weighs about 50 pounds and responds to the nicknames M.J. or “Monkey.”

Members of Michael’s family were also present at the news conference and thanked the community for their help and support.

“Anyone who has any information, please contact the Fruitland (police),” Michael’s mother, Brandi Neal, told reporters. “We just want our Monkey home. We miss our baby and we want him home.”