On July 27, 2021, Michael Vaughan, 5, disappeared from his neighborhood in Fruitland, Idaho.
Michael was at home with his father, Tyler Vaughan, and his sister, Arya Vaughan, while his mother, Brandi Neal, was at work. His father had last seen him playing a video game in the living room; he went to check on his daughter and ordered a pizza around 6:30pm. When he returned to the living room about 15 minutes later, Michael was gone. He searched the house to no avail and called Brandi, who raced home.
Police were called and responded to the house. A search was immediately launched; volunteers, police, and canines pitched in. The search continued for months. the Fruitland Police Department called the FBI to assist in the search. Since July 2021, over 3,000 acres have been searched and investigators have followed up on over 700 tips.
In December investigators announced Michael was most likely abducted. Chief Huff stated, “Due to the fact that we’ve conducted multiple searches, with every tool available to us with no success, it increases the possibility that Michael was abducted.
Investigators have also stated the case has not gone cold and they are still following leads. They are also looking for four individuals who were in the area at the time. These people are not suspects, but may have seen something they do not realize is relevant to the case. Two of the individuals were on foot in the area on the night Michael went missing. The other two individuals were in vehicles, one a Honda Pilot and the other a Dodge Avenger.
Michael was last seen wearing a light blue Minecraft T-shirt, dark blue boxer briefs and flip-flops. He is approximately 3 feet, 6 inches tall and about 50 lbs. He has blond hair, blue eyes, and responds to the nickname “Monkey.”
On March 24, 2022, police posted an update in the investigation. According to their announcement, over 850 tips have been cleared, and police are investigating new ones. Police state that they have searched surrounding areas been extensively and there are not any plans to have another grid search.
Police have stated that they have not confirmed the identity of the owner of the white Honda Pilot, but they strongly feel they know who the owner is. They are continuing their investigation into the vehicle.
On November 15, 2022, police announced they have made an arrested in connection with Michael’s disappearance and possible murder. Sandra Wondra, 35, was arrested on November 11, 2022, for failing to report a death. Fruitland police believe she has knowledge that Michael has died and did not report his death.
Police also stated they believed Michael’s remains may have been on Wondra’s property at 1102 Redwing Street in Fruitland, Idaho. On November 12, Idaho State Police and the Fruitland Police Department started to excavate her backyard.
Police have stated the excavation process will be long and methodical. They have also stated they have received many tips after this revelation and will follow up on each of them.
Investigators believe more people have information about the abduction and death of Michael. They are asking anyone with information to send it to firstname.lastname@example.org or to Crime Stoppers at 343cops.com