IDAHO FALLS, Idaho — The grandmother of missing toddler DeOrr Kunz Jr. says she will keep returning to the Timber Creek Campground in Lemhi County until her grandson is found or until the day she dies.
Trina Bates Clegg spoke with East Idaho Newsmakers about the case in a 38-minute interview that was posted Sunday on EastIdahoNews.com.
DeOrr was 2 years old when he vanished while on a camping trip with his parents, great-grandfather and a friend of his great-grandfather on July 10, 2015. There has been no sign of the toddler since that day, and nobody has been charged in connection to his disappearance.
Clegg said even though it’s been nearly two years since DeOrr disappeared, she plans to return to Timber Creek Campground next weekend to search for the boy. She’s inviting the public to help and hopes to get answers.
“Until I know in my heart that I’ve covered every inch of that area, which may never happen in my lifetime, but until I feel confident that I’ve covered more areas and I’ve seen more ground, I’ll go back there until the day I die. I don’t care if I’m 90 years old,” Clegg told EastIdahoNews.com.
The emotional twists and turns of the last two years have taken a toll on Clegg and her family. She believes errors have been made in the investigation, including when former Lemhi County Sheriff Lynn Bowerman named Vernal Kunz and Jessica Mitchell, DeOrr’s parents, as suspects in the disappearance. Mitchell is Clegg’s daughter.
“I think if that’s what their suspicions were, they should have kept their mouths shut and pursued that,” Clegg said. “If you stole something from me and all of a sudden everyone keeps pointing fingers at you, what are you going to do with what you had stolen from me? Hide it, get rid of it, try to make it less suspicious. If (investigators) had just kept things quiet, maybe something would have come up.”
During her East Idaho Newsmakers interview, Clegg discussed a variety of aspects in the case, including private investigator Philip Klein, an age-progressed photo of DeOrr recently released by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and her relationship with her daughter, Jessica.
“Everyone always asks me, ‘Why can’t you get (Jessica) to talk?’ I have sat in interrogation rooms and I’ve begged her. I threw pictures of baby Deorr in front of her and said, ‘All it takes is you to talk to them,'” Clegg said. “There was a time she was offered immunity. (They said) ‘Sign that piece of paper and tell us what happened. You can walk right out that door.’ Why wouldn’t she sign immunity if that’s the case?
Clegg continued, “I may get proved wrong. I can’t say that it may not happen, but as of right now, I have to believe in my heart the things that I’ve been told.”
‘Search For Answers For Baby DeOrr’ will be held July 8 to 9 at Timber Creek Campground in Lemhi County. Volunteer searchers are asked to wear appropriate shoes and bring food and water. Click here for more information.
A community vigil for DeOrr will be held at 7 p.m. July 10 at Freeman Park in Idaho Falls. Attendees are asking to bring a blue balloon and a candle. Click here for more information.