"We had a lot of deception taking place being told to us by a variety of sources in the community," Toledo Police Chief Derrick Diggs said.
The Blade/Dave Zapotosky
Toledo Police believe human remains found Thursday in an East Toledo garage may be missing toddler Elaina Steinfurth.
"We had a lot of deception taking place being told to us by a variety of sources in the community," Toledo Police Chief Derrick Diggs said during a news conference today. "The bottom line is we found what we believe may be Baby Elaina."
In a written statement, Lucas County Deputy Coroner Dr. Diane Scala-Barnett said the remains from 704 Federal are so immature it's not possible to determine the sex of the remains.
A DNA sample has already been sent to the state's Bureau of Criminal Investigation lab in London, Ohio; a BCI spokesman said test results should be available early next week.
Dr. Scala-Barnett also said the cause and manner of death will not be ruled on until all parts of the autopsy -- including a toxicology report and an anthropological study -- are completed.
The Toledo Police Department and others today held the news conference to discuss new breaks in the case of the missing baby, who was last seen at 704 Federal St. about three months ago. Police found a computer box containing the suspected human remains in a detached garage at that address Thursday.
Authorities today said the box contained immature skeletal remains.
RELATED ARTICLE: Suspected human remains seized from site where tot lived
Police officials said that the garage had been searched soon after the baby went missing, but that it was initially searched for a missing child. Ultimately, Chief Diggs said, what was important was that police found the baby.
He refuted a question when asked whether police dropped the ball while searching the Federal Street property for the child.
"We didn't drop the ball," he said.
Rob Miller, chief of the special units division for the Lucas County Prosecutor's Office, said today that depending on the outcome of an autopsy, he would anticipate presenting the case to a Lucas County grand jury next week.
"We're hoping to know the cause of death after the autopsy, which should occur today," Mr. Miller said.
"Depending on the evidence, we would evaluate whether [the indictment] would be against one or both of them," Mr. Miller said, referring to the girl's mother, Angela Steinfurth, and her then-boyfriend, Steven King II.
Chief Diggs said during the news conference that the state Bureau of Criminal Investigations will work over the weekend to try and determine the identity of the remains. He said that the investigation is still ongoing, and there were many details of the case he could not discuss.
Mr. King spent several hours at the downtown Safety Building Thursday talking to detectives.
Chief Diggs would not comment whether Mr. King provided the tip that led police to the garage.
A search warrant for the garage where the remains were found was filed in Lucas County Common Pleas Court under seal and therefore was not made public.
Police officials said that the box containing the remains was in the rafters of the garage with other boxes.
Angela Steinfurth's stepfather, Richard Schiewe, does not believe the remains found on Federal Street were there the entire time that Elaina has been missing.
Mr. Schiewe said he was with police on June 3 searching through the garage; the computer box where the skeletal remains were found was not there, he said after the Toledo Police Department's news conference today.
“That body was not in the rafters the day after Elaina came up missing,” Mr. Schiewe said. “I was in the garage with police … I searched the garage. All that was in that garage was junk bicycle parts, plumbing parts, electrical parts, and two turtles, and a bunch of musted-up boxes.
“That body was not in that garage.”
Mr. Schiewe said he believes someone told someone else where the toddler's body was being kept and then put the body in the box and tucked it onto a shelf on the rafters.
“That box was not up there,” Mr. Schiewe said. “There was nothing. I took everything out of the rafters. Somebody put that body up there. Somebody went and got that body and put that body up there.”
Mr. Schiewe said he was going to meet with his daughter at the Lucas County jail at 11:20 a.m.
"I just hope there's closure," said Terry Steinfurth, Sr., the grandfather of missing toddler Elaina Steinfurth, "I'm here just for her. We did not want it to end this way."
"All we can hope for is that those who are responsible get a fair punishment. We still have a lot of questions. We are waiting for answers," he said.
Mr. Steinfurth spoke earlier today as he sat in his car parked by a boarded-up house at the intersection of Federal and Leonard Streets. A sign at the porch, which was half-filled with toys, said, "Bring Elaina home." There were also several spirit burners left aflame near the porch.
Mr. Steinfurth was one of several people who stopped by today at the home that had been used as an informal search headquarters for the missing girl this summer. A Toledo police officer was also present at the scene, just yards from the house on Federal, from which the toddler went missing. Two more officers remained in police cruisers parked near the house - one on the street and one in the alley behind it.
Terry Steinfurth, Jr., the girl's father, who came to the scene later, said he "just came down to see what was going on," adding that he was sure more people would come to Federal and Leonard later in the day.
"I'm still holding on to the hope that it's not her," he said. "But you've got to be realistic to some degree, too."
"So I'm just being hopeful," he said. "The police are doing what they can do, hopefully, you know. Justice will be served in the long run."
Elaina was 18-months-old when she last was seen in early June at the Federal Street home owned by the family of her mother’s estranged boyfriend.
Her mother, Mrs. Steinfurth, stayed overnight in the home the night of June 1 with her two daughters and then-boyfriend Mr. King, 23. The girls’ father, Terry Steinfurth II, 25, went to Federal Street at about 2 p.m. on June 2 to pick up the girls, but was only given their 4-year-old daughter, Kylee.
Mrs. Steinfurth, 25, who is estranged from Mr. Steinfurth, but still legally married to Mr. Steinfurth, said she didn’t know where the toddler was, police have reported.
Mrs. Steinfurth and Mr. King remain in the Lucas County jail charged with obstructing justice for allegedly lying to police during the ongoing investigation. Police have said that until they find Elaina or her remains, they consider the case to be a missing persons investigation. In Lucas County Common Pleas Court last month, Brad Smith, an assistant county prosecutor, referred to the investigation as a homicide.