What happened to Deorr Kunz Jr.?

Many might recall the day when the disturbing news broke about the tragic events that happened to the Kunz family in 2015 when their son, baby Deorr Jay Kunz Jr., disappeared. 

Kunz allegedly vanished at Timber Creek Campground, where he and his parents Jessica and Vernal Deorr Kunz Sr., and great-grandfather Robert Wilton had gone on a camping trip.

The case was amongst those that received a lot of public attention while police and investigators tirelessly worked to uncover what had happened to baby Deorr.

The police were met with several dead ends, as well as a few unexpected turns implicating Deorr’s parents.

Now, it’s been six years since Baby Deorr was reported missing, and the case has since quietened down. So what does this mean? Has he been found? We reveal what’s happened so far below.

What happened to Deorr Kunz Jr.

On July 10th, 2015, what began as a fun time ended up tragic when 2-year-old DeOrr Kunz Jr. vanished from the care of his parents Jessica Mitchell and Vernal Deorr Kunz Sr. 

The Family was visiting Timber Creek Campground for a camping trip a couple of miles away from Leadore, Idaho. 

Also on the trip were DeOrr’s great-grandpa Robert Walton and his friend Isaac Reinwand.

Since the day he was separated from his parents, his disappearance has remained a mystery, with the little boy having not been found and no one charged with his disappearance. His parents were named as suspects at some point, but they were acquitted. 

Furthermore, his great-grandfather Robert Walton, who Deorr’s parents thought was looking after Deorr before he went missing, passed away in 2019, and he didn’t get to see the case resolved.

If you don’t remember why his parents believed Walton was the last family member in contact with baby Deorr Kunz Jr., we recall the events below.

Deorr’s Arrival at the Timber Creek Campground

According to the family’s recollection of events, they set up some chairs and made a fire in the firepit after arriving at the Timber Creek Campground. 

As stated by Robert Walton, he left momentarily to relax inside but remembered leaving the door open. 

His friend Reinward also left soon after to fish at a nearby stream. Jessica and Vernal had also decided they wanted to look around at the campsite. Jessica had alleged that she screamed to her grandfather Walton that they were leaving when he needed to look after baby Deorr. 

However, Walton claimed that he was unaware that he was supposed to take care of Deorr Jr.

According to East Idaho News, thirty minutes after Jessica and Vernal took off for sightseeing, they returned and realized baby Deorr had gone missing and immediately alerted law enforcement.

However, when investigations garnered momentum, the Lemhi County Sheriff, Lynn Bowerman, revealed the parents told him a seemingly different story. 

deorr kunz missing
Age-progressed photo of DeOrr Kunz Jr.

According to Bowerman, Jessica and Vernal decided to go fishing by the same stream where Reinward had gone earlier. They asked two-year-old DeOrr Kunz Jr. if he wanted to come along with them or stay with his great-grandfather, and he walked towards the home where his great-grandfather was, which they assumed meant he was staying. And that was the last time they saw him alive.

On the other, according to Bowerman, Walton revealed that he glanced over to the stream where he saw Deorr Jr. looked away for a bit and looked back, only to find Deorr Jr. was gone.

The search for DeOrr

The moment officials were alerted to baby Deorr’s disappearance, professional and volunteer crews on foot, horseback, and ATVs searched the remote campground dozens of times, but they found nothing. 

Additionally, the area was scoured using helicopters and drones, but that too didn’t prove to make a significant difference. 

Three different private investigators were asked to help find the baby boy, but none of them succeeded. 

At some point, the advanced teams of investigators took the search party 40 minutes away from the campsite where they located a convenience store. Jessicca and Vernal Kunz had confirmed a store clerk saw them with their son at around 1:00 pm. 

Investigators went back to speak to that store clerk. The clerk said he saw the two with Deorr Jr. at around 6:00 pm. 

However, Jessica and Vernal Kunz maintained that they were at the store at 1:00 pm, implying the clerk had been “mistaken.” The discrepancies in their accounts of what happened led to controversies.

Nonetheless, even with the discrepancies and several dead-ends, investigators had not given up their search, sending out an annual deployment of a hard-working and dedicated team and cadaver dogs into the area; still, baby Deorr was not found.

Kunz case controversy

After several police interviews, it became noticeable that the accounts of what happened to Deorr Jr. during the family fishing trip from the two parents were seemingly increasingly different leading investigators to believe they were hiding something. According to Lemhi County Sheriff Lynn Bowerman, the parents apparently tried to cover up something. 

He stated that they didn’t do so upon being given countless opportunities to explain if some kind of accident had occurred. They were even asked to take multiple polygraph tests, which they declined. As a result, they became suspects in the case, with Bowerman being sure Baby Deorr strange disappearance was a homicide rather than a kidnapping.

Another aspect that led investigators to think that a homicide took place is that his parents said that Deorr Jr. was wearing cowboy boots that were too big for his feet. They argued that if he had been the victim of a wild animal attack, indeed his boot would have fallen off, and they would have retrieved it during the search. However, his boots were nowhere to be seen.

Also, after the couple broke off their engagement and abandoned their apartment in Idaho falls, investigators retrieved everything that his parents kept in storage. They found Deorr’s camo jacket as part of the items, which his parents claimed he was wearing the day he went missing. 

In addition to finding the camouflage jacket, they found toys his parents also alleged baby Deorr had in his possession when he went missing. Furthermore, Investigators found an insurance tracking device box and a credit card used by a family friend with “seemingly purchases of items unknown to investigators in testimony.”

And there is also another theory that Deorr’s parents gave Deorr up for illegal adoption and led investigators to believe he was kidnapped as a cover-up. 

However, with minimal evidence to pin the parents to the crime, or anyone else for that matter, investigators had no legal grounds to charge them.

Bones uncovered

After previous Sheriff Lynn Bowerman had retired, a small bone was discovered at the campsite in 2019, four years after Deorr went missing. 

According to reports, Lemhi county sheriff Steve Penner sent the bone to the FBI office in Quantico for DNA testing.

However, after months in the lab, DNA evidence showed that the remains at the campground, which appeared to be human, did not belong to Deorr Jr.

“Preliminary testing couldn’t rule it out as being human, but tests at Quantico did not find any human DNA on the bone,” Penner tells EastIdahoNews.com. “It’s likely the remains are from an animal,” said Penner.

However, even after yet another setback, investigators seem relentless in their quest to find answers to the mysterious disappearance of Deorr Jr. 

Even after the bone was uncovered and later proved not to belong to Deorr, the family remained hopeful. They were so determined to find answers that they hired a private investigation firm, resulting in more suspicions directed at Deorr’s parents.

The investigation by Klein Investigation and Consulting

Another aspect that led the world to believe that the Kunz Jr. parents aren’t completely truthful in their account of what happened to Deorr is the outcome that came from hiring a private investigation firm called Klein Investigation and Consulting. 

According to company owner Phillip Klein, the companies investigators found evidence that ruled out the possibility of an animal attack or kidnapping. He added that the parents deflected from the truth to possibly cover up an accident that may have happened to baby Deorr. 

However, Mitchell and Kunz did not like what he had to say and decided to take him to court three times. 

On each occasion, they lost the lawsuit, with KIC winning each time. Additionally, according to Klien, an extended family member reached out to him to continue investigating the case despite Jessicca Mitchel and Vernal Kunz taking him off the case.

Klien isn’t the only investigator hired by the Family to have quit or been removed from the case, with another one leaving before him. The private investigators believed the parents were the main suspects.

The Final Verdict

Deorr Kunz Jr. would have been celebrating his ninth birthday if the idyllic family camping trip that Kunz family allegedly innocently planned remained central to the beautiful moments that could have been shared on a camping trip. 

Unfortunately for the Kunz family, it turned disastrous, leaving a void in the people who loved baby Deorr and tainting the beautiful mountain ranges of Idaho Woods that once was an ideal spot for families.

We’ve now gone into the 6th anniversary of the disappearance of Deorr with little evidence to pin anyone to the crime. 

It’s reassuring to know that his family, members of the community, and investigators remain committed to finding out the truth about what happened to baby Deorr.