‘Been a challenge’: Two Rivers toddler Elijah Vue missing for 3 months, search broadens

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TWO RIVERS, Wis. (WFRV) – Not counting the snow, Mishicot Road in Two Rivers looks mostly the same as it did three months ago.

The exception is the dozens of stuffed animals and dinosaur toys, meant to bring children joy but are a somber reminder of the missing three-year-old from the apartment building across the road from Holy Cross Cemetery.

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“We’re still optimistic that we’re going to find him. Obviously we’re frustrated, we didn’t think three months in that we’d still be here,” Capt. Andrew Raatz of the Two Rivers Police Department said of missing three-year-old Elijah Vue. “We will find him. It’s just when we don’t know.”

Elijah has been missing since February 20, when his mother’s boyfriend, Jesse Vang, allegedly took a nap, and when he woke up three hours later, the toddler was gone. Vang and Katrina Baur, Elijah’s mother, are being held on child neglect charges at the Manitowoc County Jail and are awaiting trial.

“It’s been a challenge. But at the same time, there’s been a lot of support that we’ve gotten from other agencies,” Raatz said of the assistance given from the Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Office, Wisconsin Department of Criminal Investigation, and the FBI on occasion. “Searches tend to be very direct at this point. In the beginning, obviously, we had multiple searches going on every day. Now, we’re still doing searches, but they tend to be more directed and focused.”

The searches will be going from broad to narrow in an efficient to use time and resources more efficiently. Canine and equine units have most recently been different strategies deployed, according to Raatz.

“There’s a finite number of resources that we can call upon despite large numbers that have already helped us, so we want to make sure that we’re not squandering those resources either,” Raatz said. “We’ve covered a large amount of the county, but obviously, there’s a lot more to cover in this county.”

According to Raatz, investigators have fielded over 2,000 tips and follow up on everyone in an attempt to advance the investigation, even if that does not come to fruition. They say that nothing is too insignificant to be passed along and that the public can help the most by staying alert when outdoors.

“There are things that have happened that have become very frustrating. A certain angle that doesn’t pan out like you wanted it to,” Raatz said. “Getting out there, taking walks, hiking, using the rivers, paddling kayaks, canoes, you name it, just keep your eyes and ears open.”

Raatz explained that an investigation of this size has two different aspects: one is to investigate what led up to the disappearance, and the other is the actual process of finding Elijah.

“We have a whole investigative team just working on that part of the case. So there’s really two parts to this: there’s the search element, and there’s the investigation element,” he said. “It’s certainly the biggest investigation we’ve had. I think it really strikes home with a lot of us. Many of us have families.”

When asked if he thought there was a possibility that Elijah could still be alive, Raatz said he was unable to answer.

“We’re all hopeful we’re going to find him, so when you do have those frustrating things that happen where a lead doesn’t pan out, you might be down for a second, but you’re right up the next one,” Raatz said. “You do relate it to your own family, so we do take it very personally, and we want to find this three-year-old boy Elijah.”

“I didn’t think we were going to be here three months from now, but we’re here. Typically, these cases where we have a missing child, within an hour or two, they’ve been located, so this is a new ballgame for all of us here,” Raatz said while pointing to the experts at the FBI and DCI lending years of experience working missing person cases.

“Everybody wants closure. We want to know what happened to Elijah. We want to bring closure to it for his family’s sake and, as the chief had said before, to bring him home.”

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That frantic day in February saw dozens of people combing through yards, drainage holes, and waterways between cemetery headstones. Now, it is silent. The only audible thing is the rain on the plastic dinosaur toys.

But while Elijah is nowhere to be found, it is easy to find those reminders of how much the community loves the toddler.

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