Police scour river for toddler

Officials recover evidence nearby

A Coast Guard boat cruises slowly up the Maumee River as Toledo Fire Department divers search for the missing girl Thursday.
A Coast Guard boat cruises slowly up the Maumee River as Toledo Fire Department divers search for the missing girl Thursday.

Authorities suspended a search along and in the Maumee River on Thursday evening for an 18-month-old girl who went missing from her East Toledo home four days earlier.

Divers from the Toledo Fire Department spent about four hours Thursday in the Maumee River, looking for additional clues in the case of Elaina Steinfurth, last seen Sunday in the 700 block of Federal Street. The search was halted about 7:30 p.m. and is expected to resume early today.

Officials began searching by the river early Thursday, and were taken to a particular area near a clearing in the brush after the girl’s mother, Angela Steinfurth, found “something” and then alerted police.

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She and her stepfather, Richard Schiewe, said they came out to the river at 9 a.m. and started to look for any clues police might have missed from their search Wednesday.

About 10:20 a.m., police asked for additional help, saying evidence needed to be bagged. At least two brown paper bags with evidence inside were taken from the scene.

Mrs. Steinfurth and Mr. Schiewe said they were prompted to search after getting a tip Wednesday evening that a fisherman at the marina snagged a duffel bag. The two went out and said they talked to every fisherman there, but none reported finding anything.

Two psychics who were consulted Thursday, one by a family member and the other by a neighbor, reportedly both told police the girl was in a Jerusalem Township field crying, “mommy,” Mrs. Steinfurth said.

Oregon police Chief Mike Navarre said a detective and a sergeant went to the field and did a search with a police dog, but found nothing indicating the toddler was there, or ever had been.

Mrs. Steinfurth said her mother’s intuition tells her Elaina is still alive. “I don’t want to bury my 1½-year-old daughter,” she said. “I feel my daughter is alive.”

Elaina was last seen at a house where Mrs. Steinfurth was staying that night. Her father, Terry Steinfurth, had gone to the house about 2 p.m. Sunday to pick up his daughters but was only allowed access to the 4-year-old, police said.

He left to summon his father as a go-between, then returned about half an hour later, after which Mrs. Steinfurth went inside for 20 to 25 minutes only to come back stating that the younger girl had been sleeping in a front bedroom but had gone missing. A man who was at the residence, Steven King, Jr., had gone out of the back door, supposedly to look for the girl, police said.

Police said they later checked the residence “at least five times” and conducted door-to-door searches in the neighborhood but failed to find the girl.

Staff writer Lorenzo Ligato contributed to this report.

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