Complaint: Child at center of Amber Alert sent to mother's boyfriend's house as punishment for 'bad behavior'

Complaint: Child at center of Amber Alert sent to mother’s boyfriend’s house as punishment for ’bad behavior’

WISCONSIN DELLS, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Criminal charges were officially filed Monday, Feb. 26 against the mother of the 3-year-old at the center of an ongoing Amber Alert, and her boyfriend.

On the same day, the Two Rivers Police Department announced Elijah still had not been found.

Katrina Baur and Jesse Vang each face one charge of neglecting a child under the age of six. Baur also faces two counts of obstructing an officer.

According to a criminal complaint, Jesse Vang called 911 just before 11 a.m. on Feb. 20 to report that he was babysitting a 3-year-old, later identified as Elijah Vue, and that while watching him, he fell asleep. He said when he woke up, the child was missing.

Police responded to Vang's home and learned that Vang is in a relationship with the child's mother. He said that Vue had been staying with him recently as he was trying to help correct the child's bad behaviors.

Investigators spoke with the child's mother, Baur, who said that Vue had been in the care of Vang for about one week. Baur lives in Wisconsin Dells and said she dropped off the child with Vang on Feb. 12 in Fond du Lac with the intention of picking him up again on Feb. 23.

Detectives analyzed the phones of Vang and Baur and found messages from Feb. 17 where Vang tells Baur he is angry that the child overfilled his diaper, and that Vang gave the boy a cold shower.

Elijah's uncle spoke briefly at Monday's hearing.

Orson Vue said, "After reading just a few things from the criminal complaint, these two individuals should not be allowed to walk freely."

The complaint says Baur called Vang the "enforcer of rules" in the relationship and said she discussed limits of what discipline she did not want used, but other than that, is fine with whatever Vang enforces.

Prosecutors say Baur denied being in Two Rivers between Feb. 12-20, but later admitted she had been in the area on Feb. 14 and 16.

When speaking with law enforcement on Feb. 20, Vang stated that Vue is afraid of him, later correcting himself to say, he "respects me." He said that Vue was in his care as "punishment" for his bad behavior and said he is trying to make Vue understand that "going home is like a privilege for him."

Vang described the discipline he used as "time outs," according to the complaint, which entailed standing between 1-3 hours.

During this time, the child was required to pray or say, "I'm sorry mommy." Prosecutors say Vang reported the child was in "time out" for the majority of his time with him as a form of "boot camp." In the event that the child tried to sit down, Vang told officers he would reply with, "You want cold water?"

The complaint says on the morning of Feb. 20 Vang described eating breakfast with Vue and then going back to sleep. He said the child was told to stand and pray near the foot of his bed - Vang said he did not change his diaper as he was too tired.

He reported consuming three beers and a sleep aid on the evening prior to Vue going missing.

Volunteer searcher Sara Deering joined the Vue family over the weekend.

She said, "It's nerve-wracking, I'm not going to lie. You want to find him or find something, but then again, you don't know exactly how you would react. It was a lot. Unfortunately, we did not find anything."

Deering and fellow volunteer Maria Wright showed up to the court hearing wearing shirts with the child's face on them to show their support.

"You're the last person to see this boy alive, and you're going to call and say the last time you saw him was 8 o'clock, and no word since then? A little boy just doesn't go missing, especially in a small town," Maria Wright said. "Do I pray every day that I find something? Yeah. You just want this little boy to be found safe and sound."

Wright added, "As the days go by, I tell myself, your hope just starts fading away. Because here you are on day seven. You don't know where this little boy is at. And you just keep on going on and on and on. Days. It's hard."

"We're just going to continue to search until we find something, or answers," Sara Deering said.

Meanwhile, the search for Elijah continues. Dive teams from two counties have helped the Two Rivers Police Department search the east and west Twin Rivers.

Aerial searches have also been conducted.

And a large search continues at a landfill 50 minutes west in Calumet County.

The volunteer searches will resume Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Groups will gather at the Mikadow Theater in Manitowoc.

Baur and Vang are scheduled to be back in court Thursday, March 7.

Records show Vang was convicted of a number of crimes between 2002 and 2009, including:

  • Criminal damage to property
  • Fleeing an officer
  • Battery by prisoner
  • Child abuse-intentionally cause harm
  • Manufacture/deliver cocaine
  • Possession of cocaine
  • Resist/obstruct officer
  • Felony bail jumping

Both have preliminary hearings set for March 7.

Anyone with information regarding Elijah Vue is asked to call the tip line at 844-267-6648 or submit information via the Crime Stoppers P3 app.

Callers with information leading to the location of Elijah, or arrest of person(s) involved in or responsible for his disappearance could become eligible to receive a reward of up to $1,000 through Manitowoc County Crime Stoppers.

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