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Mother of missing toddler and her boyfriend are charged with child neglect

<i>Wisconsin Department of Justice via CNN Newsource</i><br/>Elijah Vue is seen in an undated picture.
Wisconsin Department of Justice via CNN Newsource
Elijah Vue is seen in an undated picture.

By Paradise Afshar, CNN

(CNN) — The mother of a missing 3-year-old Wisconsin boy and her boyfriend were charged with child neglect in a Monday court appearance – nearly a week since the child was last seen.

Elijah Vue was last seen on February 20 in the city of Two Rivers while he was being watched by Jesse Vang, a man who was in a relationship with the boy’s mother, Katrina Baur, according to a criminal complaint filed in Manitowoc County. An Amber Alert has been issued for the toddler.

Vang told police he noticed Elijah was gone when he woke up from a nap at his home and the child wasn’t there, according to the complaint.

Baur, 31, and Vang, 39, were charged with one count of felony child neglect, with a modifier of party to a crime. Baur is also facing two misdemeanor charges of resisting or obstructing an officer. CNN has sought comment from attorneys representing Baur and Vang.

Vang said had been helping to care for the child for about a month – though not continuously – and trying to correct Elijah’s “bad behaviors,” according to the complaint. Baur told a detective that she wanted Vang to teach her toddler “by example how to be a man,” and that she had spoken to Vang about the “limits of what discipline she did not want used,” according to the complaint.

Vang told a detective that Elijah’s discipline included standing for one to three hours, during which time the boy was required to pray or say, “I’m sorry, mommy,” the complaint reads.

The toddler was mostly bottle-fed and was not potty-trained, Vang told a detective, according to the complaint. Vang said Elijah was not allowed to play with the one toy he had while staying at Vang’s home from February 12 to February 20 because he was in “time out,” according to the complaint.

The evening before Elijah was last seen, Vang had three 12-ounce beers and a muscle relaxant as a sleep aid, Vang told police, according to the complaint.

The following morning, Vang took his son to a bus stop, then gave Elijah cereal without milk for breakfast, Vang told police, according to the complaint. Vang said the toddler did not have his diaper changed that morning and was told to stand and pray at the foot of Vang’s bed, the complaint reads.

Vang said he noticed the child was missing after he woke up from a nap at about 11 a.m., and that he called police, the complaint alleges.

Baur, the child’s mother, told authorities that on February 17, while she was out of town, Vang told her he was angry that Elijah had overfilled his diaper, the complaint reads.

“At no point did she admit she was in the city of Two Rivers between February 12, 2024, and February 20, 2024, or had any face-to-face contact with” her son, according to the court document.

Baur and Vang were being held Tuesday evening at the Manitowoc County Jail, according to online jail records.

Police have been searching for Elijah for a week

Police in Two Rivers asked for the public’s help on February 20 with finding the young child. Elijah has dark blond hair and brown eyes, police said in a release.

“He was last seen wearing gray pants, long sleeve dark shirt and red and green dinosaur shoes. He is possibly carrying a red and white plaid blanket,” the release said.

In the days since, authorities have searched for the boy and have urged residents to “check anywhere a small child could hide, climb, or fall,” check their property for any items belonging to Elijah, and check their surveillance systems from February 12 through February 20 for anyone matching the child’s description.

A “large search” was ongoing at a landfill, and rivers also were being searched, police said Monday.

“You will also continue to see large scale canvassing of areas in Manitowoc County, both urban and rural,” Two Rivers police said.

During Monday’s hearing, Orson Vue, an uncle of the child, addressed the court and said the family asks both Baur and Vang be held “fully accountable, for their actions, or lack thereof.”

“After reading just a few things from the criminal complaint, these two individuals should not be allowed to walk freely amongst us until we find where Elijah is,” he said.

A preliminary hearing for Baur and Vang is scheduled for March 7.

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