A New Hampshire mother texted a friend about her 5-year-old’s uncontrollable behavior, comparing her son to a couple of prolific serial killers. “I want him gone,” she allegedly wrote. Four months later, the child’s body was discovered in the Abington woods.
The haunting messages from Danielle Dauphinais were shared with The Boston Globe by her childhood friend, Erika Wolfe. Though Wolfe said she and Dauphinais had not spoken in years, Dauphinais reached out over Snapchat to commiserate over a post Wolfe had made about her teenager’s attitude.
“I call him the next Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer,” Dauphinais wrote, referring to her 5-year-old son Elijah Lewis. “It’s so sad but I have no connection with this child.”
The fourth of her six children, Elijah had been living with Dauphinais since May 2020. She told Wolfe she’d been keeping the boy in his room, as she couldn’t “trust him anymore,” according to the messages.
Dauphinais also accused Elijah of playing in his own feces, adding he urinated on clothing and beds. “He’s been getting worse and worse,” she wrote to Wolfe. “I want him gone. I can’t handle it anymore.”
Elijah’s father sent his son to live with Dauphinais for unclear reasons earlier this year. However, in court records cited by the Globe, he had previously called his ex-wife “violent and impulsive” with “a history of domestic violence and substance abuse.” An Arizona court ordered Elijah to remain solely in his father’s custody in 2017, and banned Dauphinais from spending time with him.
“It’s like a [expletive] nightmare that I can’t wake up from,” Dauphinais wrote to Wolfe in a censored text about her son.
Authorities launched an investigation into Elijah’s whereabouts on Oct. 14. It is unclear how they learned of his disappearance, as a statement from the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office said that the boy had not been reported missing prior to that date.
A coordinated search effort across five states eventually ended in the discovery of the boy’s body in the woods in Massachusetts on Oct. 23, but not before Dauphinais and her boyfriend, Joseph Stapf, were arrested. They were charged with witness tampering and child endangerment on Oct. 17.
“The witness tampering charges allege that they each asked other people to lie about Elijah and where he was living, knowing that child protection service workers were searching for Elijah,” local authorities said in a statement that day. “The endangerment charge alleges that they violated a duty of care, protection or support for Elijah.”
Wolfe, who had corresponded with Dauphinais on June 22, said she had forgotten about their exchanges until she spotted news reports about the search for Elijah.
“I remembered those messages,” she told the Globe. “And I was like, ‘Oh, no.’”
Wolfe said she sent the texts to a relative of Dauphinais’ a day before the mother’s arrest. The relative indicated to Wolfe she’d forwarded them to the authorities. As of Monday, according to Wolfe, no officials had reached out to her about the messages.
An attorney for Dauphinais said that he would “contest the validity” of the texts until he had proof of their authenticity from a phone company.
Both Dauphinais and Stapf have pleaded not guilty. There are currently no charges filed related to Elijah’s death, the cause of which has yet to be determined.