NORWALK, Ohio - A Huron County man was charged with killing his 11-year-old foster daughter because his statements about the stabbing did not mesh with autopsy results and evidence from the scene, authorities said yesterday.
Paul Efaw, 58, of Ridgefield Township, appeared yesterday in Norwalk Municipal Court on one count of involuntary manslaughter and was ordered held in lieu of a $100,000 cash bond set by Judge John Ridge.
Mr. Efaw was arrested and charged Tuesday night after being interviewed by state and county investigators for more than 2 1/2 hours.
Mr. Efaw, who remained in the county jail last night, told investigators that Connre Dixon, 11, fell on a hunting-type knife during a struggle in a shed behind the house on State Rt. 99, county Prosecutor Russell Leffler said.
But Mr. Leffler and Dr. Jeffrey Harwood, county coroner, said the autopsy, done by the Lucas County coroner's office, and other evidence indicated that Connre was stabbed in the chest purposely by another person. Sheriff's deputies and paramedics responding to a 911 call from the Efaw home Monday afternoon found the girl lying on her back on the shed's dirt floor with a knife in her chest.
"She did not have dirt markings on her that would have been consistent with her falling on a knife and having it plunge into her chest," Dr. Harwood said, adding that such markings would have been present if the girl fell on the knife and then rolled onto her back.
The coroner and Mr. Leffler said the autopsy indicated that the knife entered Connre's chest once, then was pulled out partially and plunged back in several times.
"There is a single knife wound in the lower chest through which it appeared there were several tracks of the blade, which would imply that the knife moved in and out through the same opening five times," Dr. Harwood said. Asked if such a wound pattern could occur as a result of an accidental stabbing, the coroner said no. "It would not make much sense for a self-inflicted wound, either," he added.
The coroner also said the autopsy showed Connre suffered two stab wounds in her left hand.
"I think we're safe to say there were wounds on her hand that were self-defense," he said. "It would not be typical that you would handle a knife in a way that you would get multiple knife wounds on purpose."
He ruled the death a homicide.
But Mr. Efaw's attorney, Kenneth Lieux, of Elyria, Ohio, said after the bond hearing that his client suffered stab wounds to his left arm and one of his legs during a struggle with Connre for the knife. That, Mr. Lieux said, indicated that Mr. Efaw acted in self-defense while trying to disarm the girl.
"The girl had the knife and was wielding the knife and Paul was trying to get the knife from her. ... He certainly didn't start off planning to harm this child," the attorney said.
Connre, who formerly lived in Willard, Ohio, was placed in the Efaw home as a foster child in April. A 10-year-old boy who also was living with the Efaws as a foster child was placed in another home Tuesday.
In a 911 call from the Efaw 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.
"Paul was injured by the girl," Mr. Lieux said. "He has ... knife wounds on his arm and his leg, so I'm perplexed as to why he was charged."
During his court appearance yesterday, Mr. Efaw's left arm was held against his body in a sling, his right arm handcuffed and his legs shackled. He answered yes in a soft, steady voice when Judge Ridge asked if he had received a copy of the charge against him, and yes again when the judge asked if he had read the document.
Mr. Lieux asked the judge to set only a personal recognizance bond for Mr. Efaw, saying his client had longstanding ties to the Monroeville, Ohio, area and would not be a flight risk.
He said Mr. Efaw is a retired security guard who worked for Firelands Regional Medical Center in Sandusky and served 14 years as a Huron County humane officer.
Afterward in a hallway, Mr. Efaw hugged and kissed his wife, Diana, and other family members before a sheriff's deputy led the tearful defendant outside to a patrol car.
Passing by a group of reporters, Mr. Efaw was asked if he had acted in self-defense.
He lifted his bandaged left arm slightly and replied, "It appears to be. I don't want to say anything else."
Contact Steve Murphy at:
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