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After 3 weeks, searchers continue to look for missing Fruitland boy

Fruitland police said on Monday that investigators from local, state and federal law enforcement agencies have looked into many of the roughly 290 tips sent in.

FRUITLAND, Idaho — Tuesday marks three weeks since five-year-old Michael Vaughan was last seen outside of his home in Fruitland. In the latest update from officials, the Fruitland Police Department, Idaho State Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are continuing to search for little "Monkey."

In a Facebook post, the Fruitland Police Department said on Monday investigators from local, state and federal law enforcement agencies have looked into many of the roughly 290 tips that have been sent in by citizens.

Fruitland police added that they believe someone in the community may know something about Michael's disappearance and hasn't come forward with information to investigators yet. 

People who would like to leave an anonymous tip can contact Crime Stoppers of Southwest Idaho. The direct tipline is findmichael@fruitland.org and each email is sent straight to the Fruitland Police Department.

According to Fruitland police, a team from Idaho Mountain Search and Rescue will use a search and rescue canine along both banks of the Snake River. Marine and drone operations will continue as long as resources are available, police said.

"Michael's family remains fully cooperative, and we are dedicated to doing all we can to finding their little boy. We appreciate this community for being respectful of their privacy during this most difficult time," officials said in a statement.

Michael Vaughan has blonde hair, blue eyes, stands about 3'7", and weighs around 50 pounds. When he went missing, Michael was wearing a blue Minecraft t-shirt, dark blue briefs, and blue flip-flops. He also responds to the nickname "Monkey."

He was last seen in the area of southwest 8th Street, southwest 9th Street and Cornwall Way between 6:30 and 7:15 p.m. on July 27 in Fruitland.

"We emphasize, we have not eliminated any possibility as we look everywhere and follow every lead in our search for Michael. We continue to ask local residents and businesses to remain vigilant and observant," Fruitland police said on Facebook.

As search efforts continue this week, the community of Fruitland and the Treasure Valley are keeping Michael and his family in their thoughts and prayers.

"Heartbreaking, you know? I can't imagine," Carlos Ribera of Weiser told KTVB on Tuesday. "I don't have any children but just the idea of something like this happening just totally broke my heart."

Businesses from around the Treasure Valley have posters and flyers put up in front of their stores with pictures and a description of the missing five-year-old. People have also taken to social media to make sure his name and face are shared across the country.

"I've never seen a more giving community," Ribera said. "If something goes wrong in this place, everyone pitches in."

Ribera is part of the Treasure Valley Long Riders, a group of bikers who like to give back to the community. When they heard about the missing boy they knew they needed to get involved. 

The Long Riders are hosting a fundraiser called Bring Monkey Home Benefit Poker Ride on August 21. All the proceeds from the event will go towards Michael's family.

"We know they probably had to take a lot of time off work and their bills keep coming in, no matter what," Ribera said.

Bikers will kick off their ride at the Sportsman's Hideout in Caldwell and end it at Legend's in Weiser, where there will be a poker tournament, dinner, music and live and silent auction items. Those who do not ride motorcycles can also take part in the ride in their car. 

Registration is $20 per person and people can register from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. at Sportsman's Hideout. The ride will start at 10 a.m. The auction and dinner will start at 2:30 p.m.

It's a message that's been expressed a lot in the past few weeks but it's one community members still want Michael's family to know: They are here for them.

"All we can keep doing is praying and hoping he comes home soon," Ribera said.

While riders still have a few days until Saturday's benefit, Ribera and others still looking for any and all help they can get from others.

Anyone with questions on the ride or interested in volunteering is asked to contact Terrie Cathcart-Shurte at 208-405-5603 or Ribera at 208-936-5004. Anyone interested in donating to the auctions is asked to contact Cheryl Farley at 208-740-9998.

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