In 2015, two-year-old DeOrr Kunz Jr. disappeared from a campground in Lemhi County, Idaho — and no trace of him has ever been found.
In the summer of 2015, two-year-old DeOrr Kunz Jr. went on a camping trip with his family at Timber Creek Campground in Lemhi County, Idaho. But that trip soon turned into a nightmare when on the afternoon of July 10, 2015, DeOrr seemingly vanished.
Four people had been at the campground with little DeOrr, but all of them offered conflicting accounts of what happened that day. And in the time since his disappearance, police haven’t found a single trace of the little boy, despite multiple searches conducted over the years.
To this day, investigators don’t know what happened to him. Was he attacked by an animal? Abducted by a stranger? Did he drown in the river? Or did his parents have something to do with it?
The Events Leading Up To The Disappearance Of DeOrr Kunz Jr.
Vernal DeOrr Kunz, his girlfriend Jessica Mitchell, and their two-year-old son DeOrr Kunz Jr. lived in Idaho Falls, Idaho in 2015. In early July, Vernal and Mitchell decided to take DeOrr on a last-minute camping trip to Timber Creek Campground in the Salmon-Challis National Forest.
They were joined on the trip by DeOrr’s great-grandfather, Robert Walton, and Walton’s friend Isaac Reinwand, who had never met DeOrr or his parents before.
It was about a two-hour drive to the campground, with a quick stop at a convenience store along the way, and the group arrived on the evening of July 9. DeOrr helped his parents set up the campsite and build a campfire, and the family went to bed.
The group spent most of the following morning relaxing at the campground. Then, for a brief window of time that afternoon, the party split up.
DeOrr’s mother, Jessica Mitchell, told investigators that she had asked her grandfather, Walton, to watch DeOrr while she walked around the campground with Vernal.
But in his interview with police, Walton said he never heard Mitchell ask him to watch DeOrr. He claimed he was in the trailer relaxing alone when the boy went missing. Reinwand, meanwhile, said he had gone down to the nearby river to go fishing, and that DeOrr was not with him, either.
During this period of time, while everyone had gone their separate ways, the two-year-old boy went missing.
About a half hour went by before anyone realized he was gone.
Both parents called 911 on their cell phones at around 2:30 p.m. They told dispatchers that their son was last seen wearing a camouflage jacket, blue pajama pants, and cowboy boots. And while they said their happy “Little Man” never went anywhere without his blanket, his sippy cup, or his toy monkey, all three were left at the campsite.
Immediately, authorities organized a search party, and they combed Timber Creek Campground thoroughly for the next two weeks. Unfortunately, all their efforts were in vain. DeOrr was nowhere to be found.
The Evolving Accounts Of What Happened To DeOrr
Despite several searches over the years, sometimes with ATVs, helicopters, horses, K9 units, and drones, DeOrr Kunz Jr.’s whereabouts are still a mystery. The case has also been scrutinized by three separate private investigators, but nothing that might lead them to DeOrr has ever been found.
All four individuals who’d been with DeOrr Kunz Jr. on the day of his disappearance have been interviewed multiple times, yet their stories didn’t match up.
Walton, who initially claimed he was relaxing in the trailer and was never with DeOrr, later admitted to having seen his great-grandson near the river, but when he looked away for a moment, the toddler had vanished. Walton died in 2019.
And although there is no concrete evidence that a crime was ever committed, the little boy’s parents repeatedly changed their accounts of what happened at the campground that day, leading to public speculation that the parents may be hiding something — and that they could, in fact, be responsible for their son’s disappearance.
“Mom and dad are being less than truthful,” said Lemhi County Sheriff Lynn Bowerman, according to the Idaho State Journal. “We’ve interviewed them multiple times, and every time there are changes to parts of their story. The little things all change every time we speak with them.”
Bowerman added that Walton and Reinwand can’t be ruled out as people of interest, because they were also at the scene, but there’s less reason to believe they were involved in DeOrr’s disappearance.
“I think mom and dad are higher on the list,” Bowerman said.
Did DeOrr’s Parents Have Something To Do With His Disappearance?
In January 2016, the Lemhi County Sheriff’s Office named Vernal and Mitchell suspects in the case.
Even Philip Klein, a private investigator the family had hired to look into the case, ultimately concluded that Mitchell and Vernal must be responsible.
According to Klein, Mitchell and Vernal’s stories were alarmingly inconsistent. Klein says Vernal failed a total of five polygraph tests when asked questions about his missing son. Mitchell, meanwhile, failed four polygraph tests.
“In my 26 years, I’ve never heard of a person failing that bad,” Klein told East Idaho News.
He now believes Deorr Kunz Jr. was either accidentally or intentionally killed, and even claims Mitchell “knows where the body is” but refused to confess anything more.
In another baffling development, when the couple was evicted from their home in 2016 for failing to pay rent, they left a number of items behind — including the camouflage jacket that DeOrr was allegedly wearing on the day that he disappeared.
Klein released a statement in 2017, saying, “All evidence leads to the death of DeOrr Kunz, Jr. We do not believe a kidnapping or animal attack occurred — and all evidence supports this finding.”
Moving Forward In The Search For The Missing Boy
To this day, the mystery behind the disappearance of DeOrr Kunz Jr. remains unsolved. No arrests have ever been made, and no one has ever been charged with a crime related to the case.
Vernall Kunz and Jessica Mitchell split up in 2016, and Mitchell has since married. They have both denied having anything to do with DeOrr’s disappearance, and maintain that they don’t know where he is.
In May 2017, The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children released an age-progressed photo of what DeOrr may have looked like two years after he disappeared. They will continue to produce an age-progressed photo of the missing child every five years.
Affectionately called “Little Man” by those who loved him, DeOrr is described as a happy and curious little boy. And as frustrating as this case has been, his family refuses to give up on finding him.
“We will do everything we can until the day we all die to find him,” his grandmother, Trina Clegg, told East Idaho News.
The small group of people who were with DeOrr Kunz Jr. at that campsite are either telling the truth and truly don’t know what happened to him — or they are hiding a deep, disturbing secret among themselves. What could have led to the disappearance of the innocent toddler? Was he kidnapped, lost in nature, or a victim of foul play?
After learning about the mysterious case of DeOrr Kunz Jr., read about Sierra LaMar, the 15-year-old cheerleader who was kidnapped in 2012 and whose body remains missing. Then, find out about Walter Collins, the boy who disappeared and was replaced by a doppelgänger.