Though prosecutors are not seeking the death penalty, both the mother of Baby Elaina and the woman’s boyfriend could face life in prison if they are convicted in the toddler’s death.
Exactly six months after 18-month-old Elaina Steinfurth went missing, a Lucas County grand jury on Monday indicted Steven King II, 24, of 704 Federal St. on counts of aggravated murder, tampering with evidence, and abuse of a corpse in the child’s death.
Angela Steinfurth, 25, of 329 Valleywood Dr. was indicted on a single count of murder in her daughter’s death, which was ruled a homicide last month after extensive examination and testing by the Lucas County Coroner’s Office and two forensic anthropologists.
The autopsy concluded that Elaina died from “nonaccidental trauma” that included five fractured bones around the joints of her arms and legs.
The murder indictment alleges that “on or about June 2” Ms. Steinfurth caused the death of her daughter while committing or attempting to commit child endangering. The charge carries a potential penalty of 15 years to life in prison.
Mr. King is charged with “purposely causing the death” of Elaina on the same date, with altering or destroying evidence in the case, and with treating a human corpse “in a way that would outrage reasonable community sensibilities.”
If convicted of aggravated murder, he could face life in prison without the possibility of parole or a life sentence with the possibility of parole after 20, 25, or 30 years. Tampering with evidence carries a possible sentence of 9 to 36 months in prison, and abuse of a corpse could bring a sentence of 6 to 12 months.
Mr. King and Ms. Steinfurth face up to an additional three years in prison if convicted of obstructing justice.
“It has been a long time, and justice is definitely bittersweet,” said Risa Smith, founder of the Michigan nonprofit group Justice for Nevaeh, which formed after a 5-year-old Monroe girl was kidnapped and killed. Ms. Smith helped organize searches, sweeps of the river, and twice-weekly vigils for Elaina.
Lucas County Prosecutor Julia Bates and Jeff Lingo, chief of the criminal division for the prosecutor’s office, declined to comment on the indictments. Both Mr. King and Ms. Steinfurth are scheduled to appear in Common Pleas Court today — Mr. King at 11:30 a.m. before Judge Ruth Ann Franks and Ms. Steinfurth at 1 p.m. before Judge Gary Cook.
Ms. Steinfurth’s attorney, Jane Roman, declined to comment Monday. Her client has been held in the Lucas County jail since June 12 when she was arrested on charges of child endangering. That charge later was dismissed when Ms. Steinfurth was indicted on counts of obstructing justice for allegedly misleading police investigating the toddler’s disappearance.
Mr. King has been in jail since July 22 when he, too, was charged with obstructing justice in the case. His attorney, Pete Rost, also declined to comment.
Baby Elaina’s highly publicized disappearance became a homicide investigation Sept. 5 when her badly decomposed remains were found by Toledo police in a box inside a detached garage at the Federal Street address where Mr. King lived.
Elaina last was seen at that home on June 2 when her father, Terry “TJ” Steinfurth, arrived to pick up Elaina and her 4-year-old sister, Kylee, from his estranged wife.
Ms. Steinfurth initially told the children’s father that Elaina was asleep and she didn’t want to wake her, but soon after, Ms. Steinfurth said she couldn’t find the girl — a statement that led to a months-long search by police, the FBI, firefighters, volunteers, search dogs, and even psychics.
Terry Steinfurth, Sr., paternal grandfather of Elaina, said Monday that he and other family members would not comment “until this is all over.” A member of Ms. Steinfurth’s family also declined to comment.
Contact Jennifer Feehan at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-213-2134.