TOLEDO, OH (Toledo News Now) - Day 185 Dec. 3, 2013:
After 6 months of heartbreak and frustration, Elaina Steinfurths killers are sentenced and sent to prison.
Steven King pleaded guilty to aggravated murder, tampering with evidence and obstruction of justice charges in the case. As part of the deal, King will be sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 25 years.
King spoke emotionlessly of Elaina's final moments, when he held his hand over her mouth and nose while she lay bleeding.
The judge later called him a coward and said he would die in the state penitentiary.
Courtroom drama captured on social media: Click here
Angela Steinfurth, Elaina's mother, entered an Alford plea to the murder charge. She will be sentenced to a life sentence with the possibility of parole after 18 years.
An Alford plea is not an admission of guilt. A defendant entering an Alford plea agrees to be found guilty, but does not admit he or she committed the crime.
Elaina's mother hung her head and sobbed as the details of how she abused her daughter were revealed to the court. Angela threw her baby against a wall and a bed and left her there wounded. Elaina was killed, laying in that bedroom, the next day.
Perhaps the most affecting moment of a brutal day in court was the statement made by Elaina's heartbroken father, TJ. Watch his statement here.
A grand jury indicted Angela Steinfurth for murder. Steven King was indicted for aggravated murder, abuse of a corpse and tampering with evidence.
The Lucas County Prosecutor's Office sent messages to attorneys for both Elaina's mother Angela Steinfurth, and her ex-boyfriend Steven King, telling them that if plea negations are going to take place, they should happen soon.
The Lucas County Coroner's Office has ruled the death of 18-month-old Elaina Steinfurth a homicide.
The coroner says Elaina suffered severe acute fractures to the joint areas of the arms and legs. The injuries are consistent with non-accidental trauma, according to the report. The coroner says because of the absence of soft tissue and organs, no assessment of injury to those body parts could be made.
Angela Steinfurth faced a judge only to have her case continued - again. Her appearance was a continuation of her pretrial hearing in September. She has waived her right to a speedy trial.
Steven King's trial has been pushed back to November at the request of his attorney.
King's attorney asked for a continuance because the investigation is ongoing. He said in court that he spoke with prosecutors last week, and he has reason to believe the case will be resolved in the next three to four weeks with an indictment.
A funeral service was held Saturday at the Eggleston, Meinert and Pavley Funeral Home on Coy Road in Oregon. Elaina was buried at the Lake Township Cemetery in Millbury.
So many people attended today's funeral, visitors had to stand in the lobby.
Upon arriving at the grave site, her father, T.J., released a white dove, while everyone else let go of dozens of balloons.
Elaina's mother, Angela, was denied the right to attend the funeral.
Visitation for Elaina was held Friday at the Eggleston, Meinert and Pavley Funeral Home on Coy Road in Oregon.
To pay their respects, visitors dressed in baby Elaina's favorite color: pink. Some even wore T-shirts with her face on them and left flowers.
Family members say this has been one of the toughest days yet.
"It felt like my breath was just sucked out of me. But to know that we walked in here, and there was a child in there, and the way that this child was taken. It's just - we can't comprehend that," said Ginger Smith, Elaina's cousin.
The family says support from the community has really helped keep them going to get justice for Elaina.
A judge has ruled Angela Steinfurth will not be released from jail to attend her 1-year-old daughter's funeral. Steinfurth's defense team had requested that she be able to attend the funeral, which is scheduled for Saturday.
Steinfurth is due back in court Oct. 23, after her case was again continued.
Steven King was scheduled to appear in court Sept. 26, but that court date was rescheduled for Oct. 7, which was set to be his trial start date. A new trial date will be set at the Oct. 7 hearing.
Visitation for Elaina has been scheduled for Sept. 27 from 2 to 8 p.m. at the Eggleston, Meinert and Pavley Funeral Home on Coy Road in Oregon.
A funeral service will be held Saturday at 10:30 a.m. at the same location. Elaina will be buried at the Lake Township Cemetery in Millbury.
Memorial donations may be made to the "Bring Elaina Home" fund at any PNC Bank location.
Family and friends gathered for an emotional prayer service Sunday morning with music and guest speakers.
After the service, an appreciation dinner was held for those who have been helping the family since Elaina was reported missing. House of Meats, North Point Church of Nazarene and Hope Church of Nazarene all donated to the dinner.
Steven King appeared in Lucas County Common Pleas Court, where his trial was pushed back to Oct. 7 to allow extra time to examine evidence. The court docket shows that Judge Ruth Ann Franks also set a pretrial hearing for Sept. 26.
Steven King had been set to go to trial facing an obstruction of justice charge Sept. 16. However, that trial date was vacated and a hearing was set for the follow day, the first time King will appear in court since the remains of 1-year-old Elaina were found.
Toledo police have confirmed that DNA results show the body found in a box in an east Toledo garage belong to baby Elaina Steinfurth.
While the investigation continues and the coroner works to find a cause of death, Elaina's mother, Angela, and her former boyfriend, Steven King, remain behind bars on obstruction of justice charges. More charges could be filed against both as more results are determined.
Toledo police held a press conference to reveal results after searching near Steven King's home. Police Chief Derrick Diggs says they believe they have found the remains of missing baby Elaina Steinfurth.
"We wanted to find the body and we wanted to find that baby and we did," said Diggs.
Police said at the press conference that the area was "tough to search," and the box was located in the far corner on a shelf in rafters. Cadaver dogs were brought to the scene, but due to the condition of the property, dogs were not allowed to go inside.
Police say they found "immature skeletal remains."
In the late afternoon, Toledo police searched the area near the home of Steven King, located at 704 Federal St. in east Toledo.
Investigators removed a package from a garage in an alley off Prentice Street in east Toledo and turned it over to the Lucas County Coroner's Office. Lucas County Coroner James Patrick confirmed that the box did contain human remains. The remains will be autopsied the next morning.
King was removed from the Lucas County Jail Thursday afternoon and was taken to the Safety Building to speak with police.
In the morning, King's trial date was confirmed during his pretrial hearing, which is expected to be his last pretrial. His trial will start Sept. 16.
Angela Steinfurth waived her right to a speedy trial and her pretrial was pushed back again to Sept. 25.
Steven King will have a pretrial hearing Sept. 5. His trial is scheduled to start Sept. 16.
After a brief courtroom appearance, a judge pushed back Angela Steinfurth's pretrial to Sept. 4 to allow her public defender to review video evidence of police interrogation.
While Steven King was arraigned in Lucas County Common Pleas court on felony obstruction of justice charges, the case of missing Elaina Steinfurth took a new turn.
An assistant Lucas County prosecutor says the case is now being investigated as a homicide.
Judge Ruth Ann Franks ordered King to remain in jail on $250,000 bond. His arraignment was continued until Aug. 15.
A grand jury has indicted Steven King on obstructing justice, in connection to the case of missing 1-year-old Elaina Steinfurth.
On Sunday, AMVETS Post 222 is holding a poker run for the Steinfurth family. The cost is $15 per driver and $5 per passenger. All proceeds will be donated to the Steinfurth family.
After waiting weeks for test results, it was determined the hair found in the Maumee River June 29 does not have follicles, making it impossible to complete a DNA test to link it to baby Elaina.
Angela Steinfurth was briefly back in court Wednesday, only to have the judge set her next court date for Aug. 14.
Steven King, Angela Steinfurth's ex-boyfriend, faces a judge for the first time, arraigned on a felony charge of obstruction.
His attorney, Pete Rost, pushed for a lower bail, saying his client continually cooperated with police. Rost says King was only arrested after finally telling the FBI Monday that he wouldn't be speaking with them anymore.
Still, his bail was set at $250,000 and is not eligible for 10 percent bond.
Meanwhile, family and friends prepare for another prayer vigil for baby Elaina at night.
On July 22, Steven King is arrested in connection to the case of missing Elaina. He faces a charge of felony obstruction.
Family and friends are still hoping to bring Elaina home, but they have announced plans to cut back on search efforts and focus on their own recovery.
Just days after Elaina vanished, a family friend created a Facebook page to keep Elaina in everyone's news feed. The goal is to make sure no one forgets.
"I post on there every day," said creator Dan Clay. "There's hope, there's prayers, there's support."
Clay says many tips have come through the page, which has over 6,000 friends.
"People are kind of on edge," he said. "If they see anything at all, you know, they jump on it. We're asking them to kind of step back. If it doesn't look right, please report it, but don't take the law into your own hands."
Toledo Police Sgt. Joe Heffernan says initial tests show hair found in the Maumee River by a fisherman over the weekend is human hair.
It is not yet known if the hair belongs to missing 1-year-old Elaina Steinfurth. Police say DNA tests to determine that could take weeks.
Toledo Fire and Rescue dive team crews went back in the river near the base of the Anthony Wayne Bridge for the first time in days. Crews had searched the area extensively in the weeks after the little girl disappeared, but called off searches in recent days.
Family and friends gathered once again on Federal Street for a candlelight vigil in honor of Elaina. They said that even though 32 days have passed since Elaina was discovered missing, they are still holding onto hope that she'll make it home.
"Our spirits are still up," said Ginger Smith, Elaina's cousin. "Do we have our down moments? We do...Sitting down by the river today was very trying, very upsetting, very emotional for a lot of us."
The Toledo Police Department is processing some possible new evidence in the case.
Police are running tests on a lock of hair a fisherman pulled out of the Maumee River Saturday when his line got stuck. Family members say the chilling discovery may belong to their baby girl.
Currently, police are checking to see if the hair is actually human.
"Once we are able to determine what kind of hair it is, if it turns out to be human hair, then we will go a little further and do a DNA analysis to see if it matches up with baby Elaina," explained Heffernan with the TPD.
It's been a month since 1-year-old Elaina Steinfurth was reported missing by her family.
On Sunday, the Steinfurth family made a statement, updating the media on search efforts.
They also announced a new bank account, where donations can be made to the search effort. You can make a donation at any PNC Bank branch under the account name "Bring Elaina Home."
The family also spoke about the donation cups that have been set up at local businesses.
"I would like to say, they are not connected with us. If you have a can set out at your business, we thank you for your support, but please take it down," said Elaina's grandfather, Terry Steinfurth Sr.
The family says they have been touched by the big hearts of people coming together to help bring their baby home. But in the past few days, they say they've been sickened to hear of scammers going door-to-door or setting up collection cans asking for money or gift cards, all in the name of Elaina.
Although they appreciate the help and donations received from the community, the family says they have not gone door-to-door or placed these collection cans, and they don't want anyone to be scammed.
Anyone who does wish to donate can do so by donating directly to family stationed at Federal and Leonard. They have used donations received to help feed and gas up the cars of volunteers out searching for Elaina.
Angela Steinfurth was back in court Wednesday morning.
Steinfurth's attorney asked the judge for supervision instead of remaining in jail. The judge denied the request and set her bond at $100,000.
Originally, Steinfurth was in municipal court arrested on a felonious child endangering charge. However, that charge was dropped earlier this week and switched with an indictment by a grand jury on an obstructing justice charge, which is also a felony.
Steinfurth is back in the Lucas County Jail, where she has been for two weeks.
Investigators are poring over evidence, including surveillance video that shows Elaina the day before she disappeared. She is being held by her mother, being rocked and comforted. Elaina's exhausted family continues their plea, community searchers plan to comb new areas, and all this with the same sad conclusion: There's been no sign of this precious toddler for more than three weeks - a span of time most mothers couldn't dream of being away from their children.
But this child's mother sits in a jail cell, the center of a hurricane of suspicion, indicted on a charge of obstructing justice...just waiting.
That mother, Angela Steinfurth, was indicted for obstructing justice Monday by a Lucas County grand jury. However, that's not what she was arrested for back on the night of June 12. Her first court appearances related to a single charge of child endangerment. The status of that charge remains unclear. But it's the obstruction charge that could keep Ms. Steinfurth behind bars for up to 90 days, according to Lucas County Prosecutor Julia Bates.
Bates says Steinfurth could still face more charges, including child endangerment in the future.
Family members say they are happy the case is moving forward.
"I'm happy. I'm so happy," said cousin Ginger Smith. "I hope they get to the bottom of this and they find something out real soon."
Two weekend prayer vigils bring family, strangers, searchers together, all sharing the same hope. Dozens of people gathered and lit candles, sending silent words into the atmosphere, holding hands, hoping for a miracle.
Determined citizen searchers combed through dusty parking lots, overgrown parks, areas abandoned by time, looking but never finding.
Family members keep a facade of strength for the cameras, but our reporters see Elaina's father wearing dark glasses, an attempt to conceal red eyes, dark circles. A father who is not getting sleep. A father who can't talk for too long about what's happening before losing his words, stopping, walking away.
"I'm still hoping for a happy ending but they say your odds are against you at this time. I don't want to lose hope. It's been a long three weeks," said Elaina's grandfather Terry Steinfurth.
Volunteers and police continued searching for Elaina, both on Federal Street, where she was reported missing, and near the Anthony Wayne Bridge, where police searched after receiving a tip. That tip produced no results, but those searching aren't giving up.
"I know if I had a baby and she was missing, I would want the entire world searching for her," said volunteer Jackie Wagner. "I would want everybody's help. That's why I do this."
Terry (TJ) Steinfurth, Elaina's father, was alongside volunteers, trying to get through another day with no answers. He describes the last 20 days as chaos, and says every day is a blur.
Steinfurth says the situation is hard enough, but to have to explain it to his 4-year-old has been very difficult.
"She's having a really rough time getting through this," he said. "Every time I leave the house, 'Are you bring Elaina back? Are you bringing Elaina back?' I mean, how do you even explain that to a 4-year-old?"
Steinfurth also explained his relationship with his estranged wife Angela, who is currently in jail. He said they were together for about eight years, and separated in November. He says that arguments have occurred between the two families, but in the end, it's about finding his little girl.
As the search for missing Elaina continues, her mother, Angela Steinfurth, has been behind bars on child endangering charges.
She made her second courtroom appearance Thursday morning very quickly, only taking about five minutes. Angela looked shaken and fidgeted throughout her entire appearance, while the family looked on with high emotion.
The prosecution asked to resume Monday at the request of Toledo police. After leaving the courtroom, things got heated outside the courthouse when an argument erupted between both sides of the family.
"It ain't about you guys. It ain't about the media. It ain't about talking smack and everything, and sitting around campfires. It's about my granddaughter. It ain't about them, and it ain't about me. It's about my granddaughter, and my daughter, and bringing my granddaughter home," said Elaina's grandfather, Richard Schiewe.
Angela returned to the Lucas County Jail, where police have access to keep questioning her.
Elaina's mother remains behind bars and is still being questioned.
After unsuccessful searches in the Maumee River, police say they are now focusing on other efforts to uncover information on Elaina's whereabouts, including applying pressure to people they feel may have insight. They say this investigation is far from over.
FBI divers scoured the dark waters of the Maumee river Tuesday searching for clues in Elaina's disappearance. Water rescue crews from the Toledo Police Department were also on scene in what they called a "supportive role."
Meanwhile, the missing girl's family is making regular appearances on national TV, pleading for the toddler's safe return. The father of baby Elaina, Terry Steinfurth, spoke to HLN's Nancy Grace on Monday, speaking candidly about why he and Elaina's mother, Angela, parted ways.
"Me and my wife separated due to - for several reasons, one of which being the way she treated my children. That's why we separated, and we separated back in November," says Steinfurth.
There's been no sign of 18-month-old Elaina Steinfurth since June 2, when she was reportedly last seen on the 700 block of Federal Street in east Toledo. Police, now joined by the FBI and the public, continue to search the streets and river, following every lead they receive.
FBI dive teams spent time Monday searching the Maumee River in a similar search pattern to the one conducted by the Toledo Fire and Rescue dive teams. The FBI used more advanced equipment, such as sonar, and spread the search further.
On land, police and family members continued to search streets nearby. But some members of Elaina's family expressed, for the first time, a loss of hope after so much time has gone by.
"I just tell [Angela] to keep hope that Elaina's alive, but I don't think she is," said Elaina's grandfather, Richard Schiewe. "I honestly don't."
When dive teams ended search efforts for the day, police said they would secure the area overnight to make sure the scene is not contaminated.
On Saturday, about 100 people fanned out across the area, from Perrysburg to the Maumee Bay State Park, looking for missing 18-month-old Elaina. Search efforts were organized by the group Justice for Nevaeh.
On Thursday, Toledo police held a press conference regarding the disappearance. Investigators revealed for the first time that their investigation is focusing on the child's mother. During that press conference, they revealed that they believe Elaina was injured at some point, but they didn't reveal the extent of what those injuries might be.
Toledo Police arrested Angela Steinfurth, Elaina's mother, late Wednesday night. She faces a charge of felony child endangerment but police say more charges could be pending. Steinfurth cried and yelled "I love you" to someone in court during her court appearance, when a Lucas County judge set her bond at $250,000.
Meanwhile, Angela's stepfather spoke out to our crews on scene Thursday morning with his take on the disappearance of young Elaina and he didn't pull any punches on who he thinks is responsible for what happened.
Citizen searchers from the group "Justice for Nevaeh" searched for clues on their own on Thursday, as well.
Wednesday night saw a new wrinkle in the search for Elaina, with a heavy presence of investigators at homes on Federal St. where Elaina was reportedly last seen. Investigators with cadaver dogs searched two homes and a van. That van was eventually towed away and taken to the Toledo police department's tow lot. We've confirmed that the van was registered to a member of the King family. Steven King is Angela Steinfurth's boyfriend.
Wednesday, the FBI joined forces with TPD in announcing a $10,000 reward for information as to Elaina Steinfurth's whereabouts.
The missing girl's case is also getting national attention, with segments appearing on the Nancy Grace show. The FBI asks anyone who has information on the case to call the tipline, 1-800-CALL-FBI.
As they followed specific leads, Toledo Police adjusted the search strategy for missing 1-year-old Elaina Steinfurth over the weekend from canvassing to more focused searches. In addition, members of the community formed their own citizen search parties and fanned out across the area.
Efforts stretched from East Toledo to Genoa to Curtice, even to Pearson Metropark in Oregon.
Elaina Steinfurth has been missing since June 2, when her family reported her missing during a custody hand-off.
Kim Cundick, of Maumee, has helped to organize search efforts.
Cundick had been involved in similar massive search efforts three years ago for Nevaeh Buchanan, a missing Monroe, Michigan girl who was eventually found murdered.
"I hate to say we're out searching for a body. But we're just out searching for Elaina. We just want to bring her home," said Cundick.
Dan Clay, Sr., also helped organize search parties. Although many search party members have work responsibilities, Clay says the volunteer searches won't end until Elaina is found.
"It's like, you don't know where to go next," he said. "I'm still trying to think up...where can we go? And it's like we've kind of run out of leads."
As Elaina's disappearance stretched on for days with no sign of the little girl, crews expanded their search to the Maumee river. Water rescuers, divers, and police searched the area near the High Level Bridge to look for clues about the little girl's whereabouts. They combed the wooded areas below the bridge as well as the water using sonar equipment to detect anything below the surface.
Several agencies joined the search for the missing 18-month-old. Police said they were pulling out all the stops to find the little girl, using resources from their department, the fire department, and the FBI.
Police say they are going through electronics for tips, and questioning sex offenders.
Searchers Tuesday focused on several homes, including one abandoned house, as well as trash cans in the area of Federal and Leonard in east Toledo.
This development Tuesday afternoon happened as police released little information about the state of the investigation.
A prayer vigil was held Tuesday night in hopes that the little girl will be returned safely. Hundreds of people attended.
"I just want her home in one piece, I wanna know that she's okay," said Angela Steinfurth, Elaina's mother. "It's very hard not having her around. My other daughter's going insane without her sister. They need to be together."
Police got involved in the young girl's disappearance Sunday afternoon when Elaina's father, Terry Steinfurth, showed up at a home in east Toledo to pick up the girl and her older sister.
The children had been with their mother, Angela, and her boyfriend Steven King. Terry says Angela had taken the girls to the home, belonging to Steven's mother, Julie King.
"She told me she was staying at her father's house," Terry explained, but that wasn't the case. "I went to pick them up Sunday…they told me she was back over [at Julie King's house], where she promised me they weren't going to be."
According to Julie, Angela called Saturday evening, asking if she and the girls could stay at Julie's for the night. Julie tells WTOL 11, Angela claimed they had no place else to go.
"I believed everything she told me, I thought she didn't have a place to stay," Julie said. "She lied to us."
Julie says she allowed them to stay the night, but says she didn't see baby Elaina all day Sunday.
When Terry came to pick up his daughters, he says Angela allowed their oldest to go with him, but refused to let him see Elaina. He says he persisted, and she refused.
That's when he says the children's grandfather, Terry Steinfurth Sr., arrived on scene. He says he wanted to help Terry Jr. get Elaina when Angela wouldn't give her up. Steinfurth Sr. says when he showed up, Angela told him the baby [Elaina] was napping, and she didn't want to wake her.
Steinfurth, Sr. says he and his son wanted to call the police and others to look for the child, but Angela sat down on the porch "like nothing was wrong…no tears, no nothing."
Julie says when Angela announced the baby was gone, she and her son, Steven, immediately went out the back door to begin looking in the pool, the garage, and nearby.
Steinfurth says his family, friends, even his boss, have helped him canvass the neighborhood and put up fliers, but they have seen no sign of Elaina. He says the police currently have no leads, either.
Angela told Toledo News Now she thinks the baby was kidnapped. Her boyfriend, Steven, refused to comment.
"I personally think someone's hiding her," Steinfurth Jr. said. "I don't know who, I don't even care, I just want my baby."
His father, however, has his guess as to who is responsible.
"I feel the mother and the boyfriend know what happened to that baby," Steinfurth Sr. said. "The way they're acting, I think they know where she's at but they don't want any of us to know."
The Steinfurths, Angela, her boyfriend, have all been questioned by Toledo Police. Steinfurth says Angela claims she passed a lie detector test, but police say they cannot confirm that.
Elaina's father says there is a cash reward for any information that leads to finding his daughter.
"You don't ever expect to go through something like this, it doesn't seem real," he said.
Elaina was last seen wearing orange shorts with flowers. Anyone with information is urged to call Toledo Police at 419-936-8995 or CrimeStoppers at 419-255-1111. Although no tips have panned out yet, just one tip could help her return home safely.
"I don't care who's got her," Steinfurth Sr. added. "We just want her back safe."