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A mother sent her three-year-old boy away to ‘learn to be a man.’ Now he’s missing

Elijah Vue   (FB/Two Rivers Police Department)
Elijah Vue (FB/Two Rivers Police Department)

On Tuesday, 20 February an Amber Alert went out in the Wisconsin town of Two Rivers.

A little boy had gone missing and police needed the community’s help.

Nearly a week on, the town is still searching for Elijah Vue, while his mother and a male acquaintance are in jail, facing child neglect charges.

Here’s everything we know so far about the case:

What happened to Elijah Vue?

Three-year-old Elijah Vue was last seen at around 8am on 20 February on the 3900 block of Michicot Road in Two Rivers, a town on the shore of Lake Michigan in Wisconsin.

Two Rivers Police Department said they received a call at 10.59am from “the adult caregiver” – believed to be his mother’s partner Jesse Vang – reporting the boy as missing.

Elijah, from Wisconsin Dells around 150 miles away, had been sent by his mother Katrina Baur to stay with Mr Vang “for disciplinary reasons”, Two Rivers authorities said.

In court documents seen by NBC 26 on Monday, police said that Ms Baur told them she had sent her son to Mr Vang so he could teach the boy how to be a man.

Mr Vang allegedly used “tactics” including time outs where Elijah had to stand up for one to three hours or was forced to take cold showers.

At the time of his disappearance, Elijah was said to be wearing grey pants, a dark-coloured long-sleeve shirt and red-and-green dinosaur slip-on shoes.

Elijah Vue, 3, was last seen in Two Rivers Wisconsin on 20 February 2024 (Two Rivers Police Department)
Elijah Vue, 3, was last seen in Two Rivers Wisconsin on 20 February 2024 (Two Rivers Police Department)

Investigators urged the public to be on the lookout for the little boy who is described as being of Hmong and white ethnicity, about three feet tall and having brown hair and brown eyes. He has a birthmark on his left knee.

Police are also on the lookout for signs of his red and white plaid blanket, which he may have been carrying that morning.

Elijah Vue’s mother and friend arrested

One day after after Eijah’s disappearance, his mother Katrina Baur, 31, was arrested and charged with party-to-a-crime child neglect.

She is being held on a $15,000 cash bond.

She reportedly changed her story on her whereabouts at least twice while being interviewed by investigators.

She was hit with two further charges of obstruction on Monday, 26 February.

Jesse Vang, 39, was also arrested a few hours after Elijah disappeared and was charged with child neglect. He reportedly has a history of other criminal offences, including child abuse and is being held on a $20,000 bond.

The pair appeared in court on Friday and were due to appear again on Monday afternoon.

Local reports suggested that Elijah’s father has also been in prison for some time.

The Vue family, who said they had not had contact with the boy since he was a baby, have been heavily involved in the search efforts for him.

The search

Multiple law enforcement agencies including the Two Rivers Police Department, the FBI, the Wisconsin Department of Criminal Investigations, the Manitowoc Police Department, the Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Office and the Sheboygan County Sheriff’s Office are involved in the search for the little boy.

Dive teams are combing through nearby waterways while investigators have also turned their attention to a landfill site in Two Rivers over the last few days.

A large number of local volunteers – including Elijah’s relatives – have also joined in the search over the past week.

“We’re all out here for the same reason, to find that little boy,” local Maria Wright told ABC 2 News.

“When you see everybody you know that we are a team. Your community is one big team. We’re going to keep on and the search is going to go on and on until we find this little boy.”

Police officers and volunteers are knocking door to door, searching local rivers and using drones and dogs as part of the search.

Locals have been asked to check anywhere a small child might hide, climb or fall, and to look for any items on their property which don’t belong to them, such as Elijah’s blanket or shoes.

Volunteers were set to take a break on Monday, to rest up while law enforcement continue the search.

A $1,000 reward is being offered through Manitowoc County Crime Stoppers for information that leads to the location of Elijah or the arrest of those responsible for his disappearance.

Two Rivers Police Chief Ben Meinnert said in a Facebook update on Saturday 24 February that “locating Elijah and reuniting him with his family continues to be our top priority” as he continued to urge the public to come forward with any information.

The police department has also issued warnings around scams related to Elijah’s disappearance, including a video appearing to show police finding the boy.

This was fake, Chief Meinnert said, and Elijah remains missing as of Monday.

“Again, beware of scams seeking your money and personal information, but also those now looking to take advantage of this unfortunate incident,” the chief added, referring to reports of residents being called by scammers asking for money to help with the search.

Anyone with information on the case can call 844-267-6648 or submit information via the local Crime Stoppers app P3.