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Boyfriend of mother of Elijah Lewis, 5-year-old N.H. boy found dead in Mass., to plead guilty to manslaughter

Elijah Lewis.

The boyfriend of the mother of 5-year-old Elijah Lewis, who was found dead in Abington last October, plans to plead guilty to manslaughter and other charges in connection with the boy’s death, according to court records.

Joseph Stapf, 31, will also plead guilty to second-degree assault, falsifying physical evidence, and witness tampering, according to a document filed last week in Hillsborough County Superior Court in New Hampshire.

The notice of intent to plead guilty states that Stapf could face a sentence of 22 to 45 years. A plea and sentencing hearing has been scheduled for Jan. 4.

Lewis’s body was found in a wooded area in Abington on Oct. 23 after a 10-day search by law enforcement agencies from several states.


A State Police officer walked along Chestnut Street in Abington last October as the nearby woods were searched by law enforcement looking for Elijah Lewis (right).

Authorities said the boy was last seen alive at his home in Merrimack, N.H., and was reported missing to law enforcement on Oct. 14. Stapf and Lewis’s mother, Danielle Dauphinais, were arrested in New York City three days later.

The Massachusetts medical examiner’s office ruled the boy’s death a homicide and listed the cause as “violence and neglect, including facial and scalp injuries, acute fentanyl intoxication, malnourishment, and pressure ulcers,” which are more commonly referred to as bedsores.

In April, New Hampshire Attorney General John M. Formella announced that Dauphinais had been indicted in connection with her son’s murder. She was charged with first-degree murder for purposely causing her son’s death, second-degree murder for causing her son’s death recklessly with extreme indifference to the value of human life, and three counts of tampering with witnesses, prosecutors said.

Stapf is due back in court for a status conference on Oct. 7. The next court date for Dauphinais is a motion hearing on Oct. 26.

Pictured here is Elijah Lewis's mother, Danielle Dauphinais (at left in photo from January 2020) and her boyfriend, Joseph Stapf (right, photo taken in 2019).New Hampshire Attorney General's office

Emily Sweeney can be reached at Follow her @emilysweeney and on Instagram @emilysweeney22.