FRUITLAND — Police are continuing searching the local area for missing 5-year-old Michael “Monkey” Joseph Vaughan, of Fruitland. The child went missing a week ago today, and law enforcement teams, search and rescue teams and hundreds of community volunteers have been searching earnestly for the missing child.
On Saturday, Fruitland Police Chief JD Huff held a press conference outside Fruitland City Hall, and for the first time, introduced Michael’s parents, Tyler and Brandy (last name's not provided), to the community.
During the press conference, Michael’s mother thanked all involved in the search, saying they just wanted their child home.
“I just want to thank the community and all the enforcement agencies that have been continuously, tirelessly looking for him. And anybody that has information, please contact the Fruitland PD,” she said. “We just want our ‘Monkey’ home. We just miss our baby and we want him home.”
And that is the foremost goal of Fruitland Police, Huff said in a news release on Monday afternoon.
Despite continued search efforts with “a considerable number of highly trained people and specialized resources,” the news late Monday was that Michael is still missing. No new updates had been provided as of press time this morning.
Teams of law enforcement personnel, including recently the FBI, have spent six full days of “round-the-clock efforts” in searching for Michael.
On Monday, additional searches were conducted by law enforcement and fire personnel, according to the release. These first responders used “aerial, marine, and land using specialized equipment, with extra focus on areas in and around where the child was last seen.”
“Michael deserves every effort we can make to find him, and that’s what we’re doing,” Huff said.
Acknowledging that the search is “painstaking and methodical,” the chief said all details matter.
“This little boy is a member of our community and we’re grateful for all those who’ve come together to do all we can to find him,” Huff said.
Investigators are still urging people to carefully search their property, including outbuildings, vehicles and irrigation ditches, or any other small places a small child could hide or get stuck in.
Huff on Saturday said the search for Michael continues near his home, with the Fruitland Public Works department draining two irrigation runoff ditches to assist investigators using K-9 units and aerial drones to survey the area.
“Idaho Fish & Game officers are continuing to search the river by boat four-to-five miles downriver and back up, and in the slews of the Snake River as well,” said Huff on Saturday. “The Fruitland Police Department will continue to organize search and rescue operations with resources provided by the Idaho Mountain Search & Rescue team, the Fruitland Fire Department and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.”
Huff added that his department will continue to call on residents as needed to contribute further to the search. In the meantime, he expressed gratitude to residents for their support, and for them to be as thorough as possible in searching their homes for Michael, as well as identifying individuals who may have been near Michael’s home Tuesday evening.
Huff declined to comment on leads received in the search, citing the ongoing investigation in Michael’s disappearance. He asked that the family’s privacy be respected during this time.
Michael was listed on the National Crime Information Center as a missing person the first night he went missing, according to information newly received by the newspaper from ISP's Missing Persons Clearinghouse. NCIC which is a national database that “has been called the lifeline of law enforcement,” according to information posted online by the FBI. “It’s an electronic clearinghouse of crime data, such as mug shots and crime records, available to virtually every criminal justice agency nationwide.”
Michael was last seen in the area of SW 8th St., SW 9th St. and Cornwall Way from 6:30 to 7:15 p.m. on July 27. He was wearing a light blue Minecraft T-shirt, dark blue boxer briefs and child’s size 11, blue flip flops. He is 43 inches tall, 50 pounds, with blonde hair and blue eyes.