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Man sentenced to prison in death of girlfriend’s 5-year-old son found in Massachusetts woods



A man was sentenced to prison Thursday concerning the death of his girlfriend’s 5-year-old son that was found in Massachusetts woods.

30-year-old Joseph Stapf was sentenced to 22-45 years in prison on a plea deal in the case involving 35-year-old Danielle Dauphinais’ son, Elijah Lewis of Merrimack, New Hampshire. His body was found in the woods on Chestnut Street in Abington, Massachusetts in October of 2021.

Stapf pled guilty to falsifying physical evidence, manslaughter, second-degree assault, and witness tampering.

According to WMUR, text messages between Stapf and Dauphinais stated that Elijah “suffered instances of assault, was denied food and water, was isolated in a room sometimes without clothing and blankets. He was left alone in that room to stand in one spot for hours at a time.”

According to the prosecution, at one point, Stapf picked Elijah up by his arms, yelled at him and threw him on a bed where he struck his head and was injured. The abuse continued from the couple to the point that Stapf eventually asked Dauphinais to stop the torture, but she did not.

At one point, prosecutors said that Stapf texted Dauphinais that they needed to feed Elijah and let him get some sleep so he would look better so they could go out, however, Dauphinais declined.

Dauphinais continues to be held without bail on one count of first-degree murder for purposely causing the death of her son; one count of second-degree murder for causing the death of Elijah Lewis recklessly with extreme indifference to the value of human life; and three counts of tampering with witnesses. She has pleaded not guilty.

Dauphinais and Stapf were arrested in New York, just days before Elijah’s body was located.

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Massachusetts determined that the manner of Elijah’s death was homicide. The cause of Elijah’s death was determined to be violence and neglect, including facial and scalp injuries, acute fentanyl intoxication, malnourishment and pressure ulcers.

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