‘People Magazine Investigates: Where Is Baby DeOrr?’ chronicles the mysterious disappearance of 2 ½-year-old DeOrr Kunz Jr. while camping with his family in July 2015 at the Timber Creek campground in Idaho. The authorities searched for the missing infant and the family employed multiple private detectives but no information about the infant has been found to date. So, how did baby DeOrr disappear, and who are the suspects? Let’s find out.
What Happened to Baby DeOrr?
2 ½-year-old DeOrr Kunz Jr., or baby DeOrr, was on a fishing trip with his family at the Timber Creek campground in Leadore, east of Challis, in Lemhi County, Idaho, in July 2015. He was there with his parents, Jessica Mitchell and Vernal DeOrr Kunz, baby DeOrr’s great-grandfather, Robert “Grandpa Bob” Walton, and Robert’s friend, Isaac Reinwand. According to reports, the infant was left by his parents under the supervision of Grandpa Bob while walking off from the campsite to go fishing on the afternoon of July 10, 2015.
DeOrr’s grandmother, Trina Bates Clegg, reminisced, ” It’s like a timeline. You start thinking, ‘Ok. Today’s the day we were cleaning out the camper,’ and I remember him (baby DeOrr) being so excited helping clean out the camper and jumping on top of the cushions and just little things like that before they did go. How excited he was to be part of that and go camping and live some (of the memories of what) I remember from my childhood of going up to Leadore and camping with my grandma and grandpa.”
The episode showed archival footage of Vernal recounting how he and Jessica had gone about 50 yards from where they left their child with Grandpa Bob before discovering some minnows. Venal said baby DeOrr loved minnows, and he walked back to bring him to see them. However, when he returned to the site, he found his child was not there. He said, “I walked up the embankment, and when I looked over, he wasn’t in his chair, and he wasn’t with (Walton).”
According to a statement released by the Lemhi County Sheriff’s Office, the authorities were notified around 2:35 pm about the infant’s disappearance. Following the missing person’s report, the Sheriff’s Office collaborated with Salmon Police Department and other law enforcement agencies in the area, Salmon Search and Rescue, Leadore EMTs, and others, to initiate a massive search for the missing baby. After extensively searching the campground but with no result, the agencies dispatched divers from the Salmon Search and Rescue and Lemhi CSO, search dogs from LCSO and Salmon PD, and horseback resources from the Salmon and Leadore area, among others.
The authorities also called in a helicopter, professional searchers on horseback and All-Terrain Vehicles (ATVs), and dozens of volunteers on foot. According to reports, there were over 150 persons assigned and accounted for on the search at one point. Within the next couple of days, the agencies set up a vast search radius of 2 ½ miles from the campground, which was extensively searched by Search and Rescue staff. However, the enforcement officials never found him, even after interviewing all four adults present with the infant at the time.
Is Baby DeOrr Dead or Alive?
The investigators looked into all four individuals, and none were ever cleared as suspects, even though they found no evidence to pin them. According to family sources, Grandpa Bob had frailing health and suffered from various ailments. Due to his medical condition, he required external oxygen administration at all times and was always patched up to an oxygen cylinder. Trina Bates Clegg claimed her father could not survive without oxygen for 15 minutes.
Grandpa Bob passed away in June 2019, within four years of his great-grandson’s disappearance, and Trina recounted how apologetic he had been since that day. She narrated, “He just kept telling Jessica he was very sorry. Sorry that he took his eyes off that baby and just kept telling Jessica he was so sorry.” The police also looked into Grandpa Bob’s friend, Isaac Reinwand, who reportedly had a checkered past and a criminal history. Lemhi County’s Chief Deputy officer Steve Penner stated how many people called in about Isaac after hearing he was present at the time.
According to the show, Jessica and Vernal claimed they had never met Isaac until the camping trip and had a criminal record that included theft, battery, and domestic violence charges. Jessica recounted how Grandpa Bob had described his friend as “kind of a little weird but a very good guy.” However, his criminal past and bizarre behavior after the baby’s disappearance invoked suspicion about him. Vernal alleged how Isaac evaded the media and refused to participate in search operations, cracking jokes and making insensitive remarks.
Isaac cooperated with the authorities, and his story remained consistent over the years. He claimed he was fishing far away from where baby DeOrr was sitting with Grandpa Bob, and he came to know about it later when he saw Grandpa Bob frantically pacing around. The police also considered the parents, Jessica and Vernal, as suspects in 2016, claiming there were numerous inconsistencies in their testimonies. According to the show, Vernal had claimed he and his son had interacted with a person unloading beer at a convenience store on July 10.
When the police followed up, they found the person claiming he was sure he did not meet Vernal or baby DeOrr that day. There were other minor inconsistencies, including who made breakfast on the morning of June 10 and many more. The family hired two private investigators, but both quit noting how inconsistent the family members’ storylines were. According to reports, one of the investigators, Phillip Klein, even had several lawsuits against him for planting false evidence.
Steve Penner said, “I don’t know what happened. Was he abducted? Was he a victim of some kind of foul play…or was it some sort of a nature take by that I mean he could have slipped out of there, and we just failed to find him? I guess I could say it’s one of those three.” Baby DeOrr’s family believes he is still alive, and Trina stated, “We will do everything we can until the day we all die to find him.” The case remains open to date, with the authorities conducting yearly searches and urging the public to come forward with any information regarding the incident.
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