Camping with the family is the most fun thing to do. We make new memories and learn how to survive under difficult circumstances. Sometimes these fun moments can end in disaster and leave a lasting mark in your life that is difficult to remove.
The same thing happened to the poor Deorr Kunz Jr family; little did they know that their joyous camping trip to Timber Creek Campground would result in the missing of their beloved child.
So, how does a two-year-old child disappear in his parents’ presence? And why did the police include his parents as prime suspects?
Want to know the answers? Then stay with us as we try to uncover the hidden facts of this controversial case.
DeOrr Kunz Jr’s Family
DeOrr Kunz Jr was the only son of Jessica Mitchell and Vernal DeOrr Kunz Sr. They both were engaged when they welcomed their son in Idaho Falls, Idaho, on December 30, 2012.
At the time of their son’s disappearance, they lived in a small apartment in Idaho Falls. According to friends and family, DeOrr was a happy little boy who hardly cried and had a smiling face.
His mother’s age was between 25-35 years, whereas his father, Vernal DeOrr Kunz, was 30-40 years old. His father worked as a truck driver in the city.
DeOrr’s Family Trip To Campground
Timber Creek Campground is located in north-central Idaho, two hours from their spot. It is a familiar camping spot for the people of Idaho during the summer season.
On Thursday, July 9, 2015, the family of DeOrr Kunz Jr. set a journey to spend their weekend at Timber Creek Campground.
Their son DeOrr loved going camping and has enjoyed season trips in the past. Robert Walton, DeOrr’s old great-granddad, and Isaac Reinwand, a companion of Walton’s, also joined the family on their camping.
Robert Walton wears a hearing aid, and he also carries an oxygen tank with him to help with his breathing.
Upon arrival at the campsite, the family set up two separate camps, one for Jessica Mitchell and Vernal DeOrr and their son, and the other for Robert and Isaac.
The next day DeOrr’s parents took him to a nearby local general store to buy goods and snacks after cooking up breakfast. DeOrr was wearing a camouflage jacket, cowboy boots, and blue pyjama pants. This was the last time people saw him alive.
When Jessica and Vernal returned to their spot, they left their son with his grandfather and went near the creek to catch some fish.
According to Jessica, she asked Walton to look after DeOrr while they were going near the creek. Nevertheless, Walton claimed that he didn’t hear Jessica’s call.
When they returned at around 1:30, they noticed that their two-year-old toddler was not with his grandfather.
His father Vernal said, “I walked up the embankment, and when I looked over, he wasn’t in his chair, and he wasn’t with [Walton],”
When they asked Walton, he replied in shock, “I thought he was with you.”
Jessica and Vernal then asked Isaac, who was also unaware of DeOrr. All four started shouting their toddler’s name but soon released that he was nowhere to be found.
Vernal rushed to his pickup van and drove to find some signals for call meanwhile Jessica Mitchell and others started searching for DeOrr.
Around 2.30 pm, Jessica called 911 to report his son’s disappearance.
911 OPERATOR: What’s the address of your emergency?
JESSICA: I’m actually camping in Leadore, just outside of Leadore. My 2-year-old son — we can’t find him.
911 OPERATOR: How long has he been missing?
JESSICA: About an hour.
911 OPERATOR: An hour?
911 OPERATOR: Are you by water?
911 OPERATOR: Do you know which campground you’re in?
JESSICA: It’s Stone Reservoir, Timber Creek.
911 OPERATOR: Stone Reservoir?
JESSICA: Yes, or Timber Creek.
911 OPERATOR: Hold on. We need search and rescue. Jessica? Jessica?
911 OPERATOR: What’s your son’s name?
911 OPERATOR: OK. What was he wearing?
JESSICA: He was wearing cowboy boots, a blue pair of, like, pyjama pants, and a camo jacket. And he’s got shaggy blond hair.
911 OPERATOR: Is your husband calling, too?
JESSICA: (INAUDIBLE) like, all down where we’re camping at, and we can’t find him at all.
911 OPERATOR: OK. We need you to stay within cell service. We have people going on the way.
JESSICA: Thank you.
Initial Search For DeOrr
The police from the Lemhi County Sheriff’s office arrived at the site after the call and started searching the two-mile radius around the area. They were accompanied by volunteers and research crews who explored the whole area on foot, on horseback, and on ATVs. Their main concerned area was the creek near the spot.
The police also searched the area with the help of drones and helicopters, but there was no sign of the baby.
The search continued for the next two days, but still, the police were unable to locate baby DeOrr.
Controversies In Missing DeOrr’s Case
After the search, the police started an investigation on his parents, Robert and Isaac.
The cops soon found out that all four people were not honest with the police, and their statements had differences.
Lemhi County Sheriff Lynn Bowerman said, “I believe his parents are hiding something. There is no doubt in my mind. We gave them every opportunity to explain if it was an accident of some kind, and they haven’t. “
The cops asked the parents to take polygraph tests, but the parents refused, which raised some suspicions. So, in January 2016, both parents of the toddler were mentioned as suspects by the police. The police believed that the baby was killed and asked the FBI for help.
Lynn Bowerman said to the media, “They need to know that mom and dad are being less than truthful, and they can make a decision on whether to donate based on that. We’ve interviewed them multiple times, and every time there are changes to parts of their story.”
He further said, “The little things all change every time we speak with them. We re-interviewed them, but they weren’t willing to tell us the truth… [Robert and Isaac] were at the scene, so we won’t rule them out, but in terms of persons of interest, I think mom and dad are higher on the list.”
The police could not arrest any prime suspect in the case due to a lack of evidence.
The investigation By A Private Investigator
The family hired a private investigation company, Klein Investigations and Consulting, to find their missing baby.
The head of the company, Philip Klein, and his team started collecting evidence regarding the case. Based on their initial investigation, Klein and his team soon ruled out the possibility of kidnapping or an animal attack.
Klein talked to the media and said, “We have said one thing all along in this case – the evidence will lead us to the truth. And we want to assure you, the public, that we are getting there.”
Soon the differences arose between the parents of DeOrr and Klein. The parents fired him, saying that he should not talk to the media during the investigation. Jessica and Vernal also filed a lawsuit against Klein three times, but the court rejected these lawsuits.
Klein blamed the parents and said that they were involved in the murder of their child and this whole story is likely a coverup. He further said that Jessica, the mother of DeOrr, is capable of committing such a horrible crime.
Klein asserted that the whole search was just a coverup and said, “It was a sickening example of ‘deflection’ of an event that in our opinion was most probably an accident and coverup.”
Follow-up To The DeOrr Kunz Disappearance
After being evicted from their shared apartment due to non-payment, investigators acquired entry into the apartment by the landlord. Upon searching the apartment, the investigator found the lost jacket and numerous toy cars that his parents asserted their son had when he disappeared.
Police and research crews returned to the campsite with their Cadaver dogs in 2016. They visited five locations, including one just 3/4 of a mile from the campground. However, no other evidence was found at the site.
In 2019, the “Search For Me Foundation” co-founder, David Marshburn, showed interest in the case. He started searching the area with the help of trained dogs but could not find the hidden truth about the case.
HLN’s Real Life Nightmare series released unreleased footage in November 2019, including hours of interviews with family members and friends.
In March 2020, a small bone was located at Timber Creek Campground. Sheriff Steve Penner discovered the bone in June 2019 and dispatched it to the FBI office in Quantico, Virginia, for DNA testing.
He said, “Preliminary testing couldn’t rule it out as being human, but tests at Quantico did not find any human DNA on the bone. It’s likely the remains are from an animal.”
DeOrr Parents After The Case
The parents of DeOrr called off their engagement after the case. Jessica married another man and left the state. Vernal also left his apartment and took another job in another state. However, the parents distanced themselves from the media and did not share recent updates regarding the case with the public.
Age Progress Photo Of DeOrr
In 2017, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children published an age-progressed picture of DeOrr Kunz Jr.
Some FAQs About The Case
To this date, the police were unable to find baby DeOrr, and the police believed that he was died or murdered, and his death was covered up by the parents.
To this date, he is still missing, and the police believe that he is not alive. Furthermore, the police could not arrest any prime suspects due to a lack of evidence.
Yes, to this date, the case is still open and active. The parents and public still hope that DeOrr returns home safely. However, based on investigation and evidence, the police assume that little DeOrr is no longer alive.
The police were unable to arrest any prime suspect of the case due to lack of evidence, so we are unable to mention the name of the culprits involved in the missing of DeOrr.