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Published: Thursday, 11/7/2013 - Updated: 10 months ago

Elaina’s death officially ruled a homicide

East Toledo toddler suffered 5 fractures, autopsy reveals

BY TAYLOR DUNGJENAND JENNIFER FEEHAN
BLADE STAFF WRITERS
Elaina Steinfurth's remains were found Sept. 5. She was reported missing June 2. Elaina Steinfurth's remains were found Sept. 5. She was reported missing June 2.
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An East Toledo toddler whose disappearance and death garnered national attention suffered “nonaccidental trauma,” officials said Wednesday.

Elaina Steinfurth’s death was ruled a homicide by Dr. Diane Scala-Barnett, Lucas County deputy coroner.

The doctor’s autopsy showed the toddler suffered five fractured bones around the joints of her arms and legs.

The findings were released two months and a day after the remains of the 18-month-old girl were found Sept. 5 in an unattached garage behind 704 Federal St. in East Toledo. Because the remains were skeletal, Dr. Barnett could not determine if any soft tissue or organs suffered damage.

Officials had declined to release autopsy results until all portions, including toxicology and an anthropological examination, were complete. Dr. Scala-Barnett could not be reached Wednesday for more details about the autopsy.

Toledo police Sgt. Joe Heffernan said the investigation has moved out of the department and is prosecutors’ hands. Despite the homicide ruling, it was not clear when or if related charges would be filed.

The toddler’s mother, Angela Steinfurth, and the mother’s estranged boyfriend, Steven King, Jr., are charged with obstructing justice, accused of lying to police during the investigation.

Jeff Lingo, chief of the criminal division for the Lucas County Prosecutor’s Office, said he had not seen the coroner’s report and could not comment on it.

Prosecutors have waited for the autopsy results before deciding on other charges against Ms. Steinfurth and Mr. King. Mr. Lingo said the next step will be to present the homicide case to a grand jury.

“Now that the autopsy has been completed, once we have examined it, we will be able to proceed in the very near future,” he said.

Pete Rost, Mr. King’s attorney, said he could not comment on the coroner’s findings.

“I don’t have a copy of any of those documents and it’s a pending case, so it wouldn’t be appropriate to comment,” he said.

Defense attorney Jane Roman, who represents Ms. Steinfurth, could not be reached for comment.

The toddler’s paternal grandfather, Terry Steinfurth, said he’d not heard about the autopsy results but his son, Terry “TJ” Steinfurth II, had been to the coroner’s office.

He deferred other comments to the younger Steinfurth, who could not be reached by phone.

Ms. Steinfurth’s sister, Mary Steinfurth, wrote on Facebook, “I pray & pray every night for justice for you & it’s coming quick. We all love you.”

Elaina was reported missing from the Federal Street home June 2, when the younger Mr. Steinfurth arrived to pick up his two daughters from Ms. Steinfurth, his estranged wife. Ms. Steinfurth and the girls had stayed overnight at the Federal Street home, where Mr. King’s family lives.

Ms. Steinfurth told her estranged husband that Elaina was sleeping and she didn’t want to wake her. Soon after, Ms. Steinfurth said she couldn’t find the girl, kicking off a months-long manhunt involving police in multiple local jurisdictions, the FBI, the Toledo Fire Department, countless volunteers, a couple psychics, and search dogs.

Despite previously searching the garage, officers acting on a tip returned Sept. 5 and found the remains inside a computer box, tucked into a corner among the rafters.

Contact Taylor Dungjen at tdungjen@theblade.com, or 419-724-6054, or on Twitter @taylordungjen.



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