FRUITLAND — As of Aug. 4, Michael “Monkey” Joseph Vaughan was one of 48 total juveniles listed as currently missing in the state of Idaho, with some listed as endangered. The Idaho State Police Missing Person Clearinghouse currently lists 171 missing persons in Idaho, 39 of whom were under the age of 10 at the time they went missing, according to Tanea Parmenter, missing person Clearinghouse manager and Amber Alert Coordinator.
Michael’s listing was created the night he went missing, she said. The way this happens is that when a law enforcement agency enters a missing person from Idaho into the National Crime Information Center, a notification is sent to Parmenter at the Clearinghouse so an alert can be created.
“We issued an alert Tuesday night when he went missing,” she said.
While Michael is the newest juvenile case for Idaho, there are other long-term missing juvenile cases which remain unsolved. These include April Bowdish, Ruben Felix and Deorr Kunz, according to Parmenter. All of these individuals went missing at the age of 2, according to Clearinghouse records.
The oldest of those cases is Ruben, who went missing on Feb. 23, 1997, and would be 26 years old today. Aside from the clothes he was wearing and physical features, information regarding his missing case is not included in the Clearinghouse.
April would be 11 years old today. She went missing on April 30, 2012. Her parents are separated and she is thought to have been taken to South America, possibly Peru, by a non-custodial parent, according to records.
And the most recent of these young children is Deorr Kunz, who went missing on July 10, 2015, and was last seen camping at Timber Creek Campground in central Idaho with his parents. Deorr would be 8 years old today.
The Clearinghouse website breaks up missing records into multiple categories, including ‘disability,’ ‘catastrophe,’ ‘endangered,’ ‘involuntary,’ ‘juvenile’ and ‘other.’ Catastrophes include events like mudslides — such as the one in Oso, Washington in 2014 which killed 43 people — other natural disasters, building collapses, and boating and airplane accidents, Parmenter explained. A disability is usually some sort of endangerment due to a factor, such as dementia or Alzheimers or auditory, she said.
When someone is listed as endangered, it is typically due to a factor such as age or circumstance or something that has to do with the potential of bodily harm or death if they aren’t found right away, Parmenter said. A listing under the juvenile category is for people under the age of 18 who authorities aren’t sure why they are missing.
“It could be a whole host of reasons, such as miscommunication with parents, runaway or other different reasons,” she said.
Records filed as ‘other,’ are similar to those ‘juvenile’ listings, if there is no endangerment or catastrophe factor to consider.
Not all of Idaho’s missing juveniles are listed under that respective category some are listed elsewhere, such as endangered, as is the case with Michael and Deorr. Ruben shows up under juvenile records and April shows up under other.
With Michael and those other young children, they are considered endangered because of their age. Michael is one of three endangered listings that were listed this year. The other two were adults, Charles Mink Jr and Opal Parker, who went missing July 8 and May 11, respectively.
“Looking at a 5-year-old, he doesn’t have the ability to take care of himself or find food, and he has a higher potential risk of interaction with others,” Parmenter said.
Michael was last seen near his home Fruitland the evening of July 27. He was wearing a light blue Minecraft T-shirt, dark blue or black boxer briefs with a green stripe and child’s size 11, blue flip flops. He is 3-foot-7-inches tall, 50 pounds, with blonde hair and blue eyes.
The longest open missing person case in Idaho for any age right now is for Dorothy Wright Weiler, according to Parmenter. Ffter that are Floyd Dorsey and Lillian Richey.
If she is still alive, Wright Weiler would be 96; she went missing at the age of 21. Dorsey, who went missing at the age of 19, was last seen in 1961 on a hunting trip and would be 79 today. Richey, who was 51 when she was last seen in 1964, would be 109 if still alive.
Parmenter noted that the average numbers of missing persons cases “flip-flopped” since COVID-19 hit in 2020, which she said was “kind of surprising.”
Typically they are used to seeing 55 to 60 missing juvenile cases per month and 35 to 45 adult cases. Now, however, the averages are more like 30 to 45 juveniles per month and 55 to 60 adults, Parmenter said.