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Michael Vaughan case: Police say excavation may last another week

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Fruitland Police Chief J.D Huff said that they still believe there are remains on the property and processing the excavation could take significant time.

FRUITLAND, Idaho — Police are still in a backyard in Fruitland on Tuesday looking for the possible remains of Michael Vaughan, a 5-year-old who went missing from his neighborhood on July 27, 2021. Fruitland Police Chief J.D Huff said they could be out on the scene for another week, processing.

Investigators have been out on the home off Redwing Street in Fruitland since late Friday night, excavating a backyard where 35-year-old Sarah Wondra lives with her partner, Stacey Wondra. 

Sarah Wondra was arrested over the weekend in connection to Vaughan’s possible death and charged with failure to report a death. Payette County prosecutors said in her arraignment on Monday that she failed to notify law enforcement of the death of Vaughan “with intent to prevent discovery of the manner of death.”

“I understand what (police) have said. It’s not correct,” Sarah Wondra told the judge during the arraignment.

Fruitland Police Chief J.D. Huff said Tuesday that Wondra has not been cooperative. He also said investigators believe she’s not the only person who knows something about what happened to the boy.

Huff said the yard is still being processed and investigators are now in the fine-tuning aspect of the property search. He said they want to be methodical and careful to preserve any evidence, and probably would be at that scene until 3 or 4 p.m.  Huff also said investigators will be searching inside the house.

Huff said investigators are still receiving tips. Good leads are coming in, he said, and people who believe they have information are urged to please keep reaching out.

“We want to resolve this and hold those people accountable who committed this crime,” Huff said.

He later told KTVB that it’s not just one statement police were given that corroborated probable cause. No forensic team is on the site yet, Huff said.

In the months since Vaughan disappeared, Fruitland Police and other investigators have been looking for information about a Honda Pilot seen in the boy’s neighborhood the evening he was reported missing. Huff said Tuesday that there is no connection between that van and the house where the excavation is taking place.

Huff also said investigators believe they have identified a man seen walking near the splash pad at Crestview Park leading up to the time of the boy’s disappearance. During a previous update in June, Huff said the man wasn’t considered a suspect.

The street to the Vaughan home is currently blocked off to prevent media presence as well as to prevent people from speaking with the family, Huff said.

“We don’t need people down the road messing with victims,” he told KTVB.

Anyone with information about Michael Vaughan’s disappearance is urged to submit tips via email to, by calling Fruitland Police at 208-642-6006, or the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-THE-LOST.

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