A 35-year-old woman in Idaho has been arrested in connection with the disappearance a 5-year-old boy more than a year ago.
Sarah Anne Wondra was taken into custody and charged with one count of failure to notify authorities of a death with the intent to prevent discovery of the manner of death in the case of Michael Joseph Vaughan, court records reviewed by Law&Crime show.
Fruitland Police Chief J.D. Huff told Boise NBC affiliate KTVB on Sunday that Wondra was one of the individuals living on the property located on Redwing Street that authorities have been searching since Friday evening. According to Huff, investigators received a tip from another occupant in the house regarding the missing child.
“During the course of the investigation we received information the remains of Michael Vaughan might be found (behind the house),” Huff said. “We received a search warrant and we started excavating the backyard of this residence due to the fact that there is potential for Michael’s remains to be in this backyard.”
The Redwing street home is just a four-minute drive from Michael’s family home.
Due to the ongoing nature of the investigation into Michael’s disappearance, Payette County Judge Brian Lee granted the state’s request to temporarily seal the probable cause affidavit for Wondra’s arrest. Chief Huff indicated that Wondra will not be the only person arrested in connection with Michael’s case.
“Our investigation determined Sarah Wondra may have had knowledge of Michael’s death and failed to report it,” Huff said. “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.”
Huff reportedly told KTVB that investigators have not yet located Michael’s remains, but said they are currently planning on excavating the entire backyard of the Redwing Street property and digging approximately three to four feet into the earth.
“This is arduous work. It’s going to take us a while to get this done, but we’re not going to stop,” he said in an on-camera interview.
Wondra appeared in court for her arraignment on Monday. When Judge Lee asked her if she understood the allegations being made against her, she responded by saying, “I understand what they’ve said and it’s not correct.”
She is currently scheduled to return to court for a status conference on Nov. 21.
Payette County Prosecuting Attorney Michael Duke reportedly sought to have Wondra’s bond set at $1 million. Judge Lee set Wondra’s bond at $500,000 and also ordered her to undergo a mental health evaluation, court records show.
As previously reported by Law&Crime, Michael went missing from his Fruitland neighborhood on the evening of July 27, 2021. He was last seen at approximately 6:30 p.m. near his home on SW 9th Street wearing a light blue shirt for the video game Minecraft, dark blue or black boxer briefs with a green stripe, and child’s size 11 flip flop sandals.
The first missing or endangered child alert was sent out at 8:20 p.m. that evening.
Wondra is currently on pre-trial release after being charged in May with unlawful possession of a firearm. In 2013, she was reportedly convicted in Oregon on one count of felony attempted robbery.
Wondra has posted several TikTok videos in which she speaks into the camera while standing in her kitchen with a missing person flyer for Michael visible in the background.
Compare the image in the background the one below, also showing the boy’s shirt:
The criminal complaint against Wondra can be viewed here.
[Image via KTVB screenshot]
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]