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Crews continue searching backyard of Fruitland home for human remains of missing boy Michael Vaughan

Posted at 12:45 PM, Nov 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-17 18:05:47-05

FRUITLAND, Idaho — Crews continue excavating and searching the backyard of a home in Fruitland in what police say is connected to the disappearance of missing boy Michael Vaughan.

The scene was quiet for a majority of the day on Wednesday, before digging resumed in the afternoon in an area around a shed.

Crews remained on scene with heavy machinery and equipment Thursday.

Police on scene say based on a "credible tip", they believe Michael Vaughan's remains are on the property. Investigators have been searching the backyard since Saturday.

On Tuesday, Fruitland Police Chief J.D.Huff said he cannot confirm if anything had been found, but said they believe there is a high probability that remains are located on-site.

Huff says the backyard has not yet been completely processed, but in the coming days, crews will also search the home for additional evidence.

Vaughan was five years old when he went missing from his home on July 27, 2021, just a few blocks away.

His disappearance has impacted the entire Fruitland community, and many say they are doing what they can to support the Vaughan family.

“Obviously it’s a small community, a very close-knit community and we see the parents around and stuff like that," local business owner Lucinda Day said. "Our hearts just go out to them. It just kind of took away the innocence of the community."

On Friday, a woman who lives at the home was taken into custody as search efforts got underway. Sarah Wondra is now charged with not reporting a death to the coroner and was arraigned on Monday. A judge has ordered Wondra to undergo a mental evaluation. She is scheduled for a preliminary hearing on November 22.

Related: Investigators digging up backyard in connection to missing Fruitland boy

Fruitland Police Chief J.D. Huff tells Idaho News 6 that this case has a lot of moving parts, and crews are moving slowly to ensure accuracy.

Investigators started using smaller and more precise tools Tuesday, rather than the large machinery that was used in days prior. Huff says they are "fine-tuning" the process.

Related: Fruitland Woman arrested in connection to missing Michael Vaughan case

According to Huff, Wondra has not been cooperative with police.

Chief Huff said Monday that investigators believe there are more people with knowledge of what happened to Michael Vaughan, but would not provide information as to what has been discovered during the search and could not confirm if additional arrests are coming.