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Missing Hoisington toddler found dead in rural Kansas

Iviona Lewis, 23 months old, was found dead in rural Barton County.
Iviona Lewis, 23 months old, was found dead in rural Barton County. Courtesy photos - Kansas Bureau of Investigation

Missing toddler Iviona Lewis was found dead in rural Barton county, and her mother's boyfriend was arrested on suspicion of second-degree murder.

At about 6 a.m. on Wednesday, the 23-month-old was found dead on open ground several miles northwest of Hoisington, Barton County Sheriff Brian Bellendir said.

At 7:30 a.m., agents and local law enforcement arrested Chaz Stephens, 25, of Hoisington, according to a release from the Kansas Bureau of Investigation. Stephens was arrested and booked into the Barton County Jail on suspicion of Iviona's death.

Chaz Stephens
Chaz Stephens, 25, of Hoisington, was arrested and booked into the Barton County Jail on suspicion of second-degree murder after missing 23-month-old Iviona Lewis was found dead.

Iviona was reported missing shortly before 4 p.m. on Tuesday. She was a month short of turning 2 and was last seen at about 11 p.m. Sunday at her house in Hoisington, according to the KBI.

Hoisingon Chief Kenton Doze said Iviona's mother had been visiting her brother in Great Bend, and the delay in reporting Iviona's disappearance stemmed from confusion over who was supposed to be caring for her.

"We are still trying to piece that together as to why that happened that way," he said of the reporting delay.

Doze declined to say how Iviona died because an autopsy is pending.

Formal charges will not be filed until an autopsy is completed, the release states.

The investigation is ongoing, and no other details have been released.

Contributing: The Associated Press

As of March 1, 284 children were listed as missing in the Kansas Bureau of Investigation's Missing Persons Clearinghouse. These six Kansas children went missing and their cases are still unsolved.

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