Toledo resident Carl Padgett leads more than 100 people in a chant, saying ‘bring Elaina home.’ The vigil for Elaina Steinfurth, who has been missing since June 2, was Saturday in East Toledo.
Shouts of “Bring Elaina home!” echoed down Federal Street in East Toledo on Saturday evening as about 100 people took part in a vigil and walked a loop around the neighborhood where 18-month-old Elaina Steinfurth last was seen.
The weather did not dim the group’s enthusiasm, though the strong winds and light rain prevented lighting the many candles that were planned for the vigil.
The crowd, led by Elaina’s paternal grandfather, Terry Steinfurth, Sr., began the vigil with a prayer before marching through the neighborhood and closed with a prayer for her safe return.
Neighbors watched from their homes. “They need to find that baby!” a woman yelled from her porch.
The vigil was a chance to not only come together in prayer but to rally the search efforts for Elaina, who’s been missing since June 2.
“If anybody can think of somewhere where we haven’t searched, during the day tomorrow, while you’re out for a half hour or an hour, search ... [and] let us know where you went when you come back,” Mr. Steinfurth told the crowd.
Wearing a neon-green “Search Team” T-shirt, Kim Cundick, 43, of Maumee attended the vigil. She said even though she did not know the Steinfurths, she was inspired to assist in the search.
Toledoan Marissa White adds a toy bear to other items and lights candles for the missing toddler.
Ms. Cundick said as weeks have gone by without a sign of Elaina, fewer people have looked for her. She said 167 searchers showed up June 15, compared to only about 50 on Saturday.
“People are starting to not come and they’re giving up, and we can’t give up. We’ve just got to stay positive, keep the morale up, keep having us come out every couple days searching, [and] getting groups together,” she said.
Despite the elapsed time and declining numbers of searchers, Ms. Cundick still has faith Elaina will be found safe. “There are miracles out there,” she said.
Authorities from several law enforcement agencies have looked in the Maumee River for Elaina, and search teams have scoured the East Toledo area with no success.
The toddler’s mother, Angela Steinfurth, remains in the Lucas County jail on one count of child endangering and is held in lieu of $250,000 bond. She is accused of knowing Elaina had been injured on or about the day she vanished from a house on Federal Street but not getting the little girl medical attention.
Another prayer vigil is to take place today at 2 p.m. at Federal Street, Mr. Steinfurth said.
Contact Sam Gans at: email@example.com or 419-724-6516.