Police in Idaho have arrested a woman in connection with the disappearance of 6-year-old Michael Vaughan, who has been missing for over a year, officials said.
Sarah Wondra, 35, was arrested over the weekend and charged with a felony count of failing to notify or delaying notification of death to authorities, Fruitland Police Chief J.D. Huff told NBC affiliate KTVB of Boise. Wondra lives in a home investigators have been searching since Friday night, the station reported.
Michael has been missing since the evening of July 27, 2021, and Fruitland City police believe “there is a high probability of an abduction,” they said on the police department’s Facebook page.
He was last seen in Fruitland County, in southwest Idaho, wearing a light blue Minecraft shirt, black boxer briefs with lime green stitching and flip flop sandals, according to a missing poster.
Search efforts have involved local police agencies, professional search-and-rescue units and community volunteers, as well as helicopters, drones, boats, divers and dogs.
“We have investigated over 1,200 tips in our investigation into Michael’s disappearance,” Huff said in a statement on Facebook. “As members of this community, we agonize with the family and have dedicated our resources to bringing Michael home.”
Wondra’s arrest was the result of a lead provided to police by another person who lives in the house with her, KTVB reported.
The nature of the relationship between Wondra and Michael, if any, was not made public Tuesday. Michael’s house and the house Wondra was living in are about four minutes apart, KTVB reported.
“Our investigation determined Sarah Wondra may have had knowledge of Michael’s death and failed to report it,” Huff told the station. “We do not believe she is the only person that has knowledge of this, and we will be seeking out those people who could possibly be connected.”
Wondra, who was booked into the Payette County Jail, was arraigned Monday, and bond was set at $500,000. She is due in court again next Monday and Tuesday, KTVB reported.
Wondra’s attorney did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Police continued Tuesday to search the backyard of Wondra’s home, where crews intend to dig 3 or 4 feet deep, Huff told KTVB.
“During the course of the investigation we received information the remains of Michael Vaughan might be found” behind the house, Huff told KTVB at the scene Saturday. “As a result, we obtained a search warrant. We have not found anything yet, but we will continue to excavate in hopes of finding his remains.”
In a statement this summer, Michael’s mother, Brandi Neal, said her family hopes “that someone can have the courage and strength to bring forth the information that could help us find Michael.”
“This is a continuing nightmare that no family should ever have to go through. We want Michael home with us and appreciate the communities support and tips. We know even the smallest piece of information can bring Michael home,” she said.
Donna Mendell contributed.