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Published: Wednesday, 10/20/2004

Foster father arrested in girl's stabbing death

BY STEVE MURPHY
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Crime-scene tape surrounds the shed where Connre Dixon, 11, was stabbed to death Monday during an altercation. Crime-scene tape surrounds the shed where Connre Dixon, 11, was stabbed to death Monday during an altercation.
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MONROEVILLE, Ohio - The foster father of an 11-year-old Huron County girl was arrested yesterday for allegedly stabbing her to death during an altercation at their Ridgefield Township home.

Paul A. Efaw, 58, was charged with one count of involuntary manslaughter in the death Monday of Connre Dixon, formerly of Willard, Ohio.

Huron County Sheriff Richard Sutherland said last night he could not provide details of Mr. Efaw's involvement in the girl's death. "It was not an accident," the sheriff said. "He's charged with stabbing her."

Sheriff Sutherland said Mr. Efaw was arrested at his home, 3380 State Rt. 99 South, about 5:45 p.m. yesterday after being interviewed for more than 2 1/2 hours by two sheriff's detectives, an investigator from county Prosecutor Russell Leffler's office, and an agent with the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation. He was being held in the Huron County jail pending a bond hearing today in Norwalk Municipal Court.

Connre was pronounced dead shortly after sheriff's deputies and an ambulance crew arrived at the house about 4 p.m. Monday and found her lying on the floor in a shed behind the house, with a knife stuck in her chest, Sheriff Sutherland said.

"You couldn't see the blade," the sheriff said. "It was a big-handled knife. It wasn't like a table knife."

The results of an autopsy done yesterday at the Lucas County coroner's office were not available last night.

In a 911 call from the home about 3:45 p.m. Monday, a boy told a sheriff's dispatcher that his 11-year-old sister had been threatening their father with a knife, according to a sheriff's office recording of the conversation. Later in the call, the boy said his father had been stabbed.

The sheriff said Mr. Efaw underwent surgery for a cut on his arm Monday night at Fisher-Titus Medical Center, Norwalk, and was released from the hospital yesterday.

During the 911 call, the boy told the dispatcher he saw the 11-year-old girl come out of the shed with their father.

"She had a knife in her hand, and my dad asked her what she had behind her back, and she pulled out a knife," the boy said, according to the 911 tape.

A short time later, he added: "The knife piece wasn't up, like you were going to chop food. It was down, like you were going to come up beside - behind - someone and like stab it through their back or something."

Later in the call, the dispatcher asked the boy, "Did she stab your dad?"

"Yes," the boy replied.

However, when she asked him if the girl stabbed herself, the boy told her he didn't know.

Diahanna Shepherd, of Willard, who cared for Connre for five months until last spring, said the girl was placed in the home of Mr. Efaw and his wife, Diana, as a foster child in April.

A woman who answered the telephone yesterday evening at the Efaw home hung up when a caller identified himself as a Blade reporter.

Ms. Shepherd said she took care of Connre from November to April until the girl became too disruptive because of "emotional problems."

"She was going through a lot because she got taken away from home," Ms. Shepherd said. "She had a lot of anger problems."

Ms. Shepherd is the aunt of Connre's 15-year-old half-brother. She took in Connre and three siblings when they were removed from their mother's home by Huron County Job and Family Services, Ms. Shepherd said.

She said the girl was placed with Mr. Efaw's family in April, but had been visiting on weekends.

Erich Dumbeck, director of Huron County Job and Family Services, said there were no "red flags" that indicated Connre might be a danger to herself or others.

"To our knowledge, she hasn't been any type of a problem child that gave us any indication that she was an angry child - nothing that would indicate she would be a harm to herself or anyone else," he said. "She was attending counseling, but that's pretty normal."

He said Connre's death was a shock to the teachers and students at Monroeville Elementary School.

"She was a good kid. She listened," he said. "There was no indication that she would be disobedient or harmful."

Mr. Dumbeck said Connre's foster parents were certified to adopt the children they took in, meaning they had to meet additional requirements.

Bob Sutherland, chief deputy for the sheriff's office, said Connre's foster parents had a second foster child, a 10-year-old boy, who moved in with them over the summer.

Mr. Leffler said the boy was placed yesterday in another foster home.

Sheriff Sutherland said the Efaws also had a younger daughter who lived with them, and that investigators interviewed her and her foster brother before charging Mr. Efaw.

Blade staff writer Dale Emch contributed to this report.

Contact Steve Murphy at:

smurphy@theblade.com

or 419-724-6078.



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