TOLEDO, Ohio – An Ohio man pleaded guilty Tuesday in the slaying of his ex-girlfriend’s 19-month-old daughter, whose remains were found three months after she was reported missing.
Steven King II, 24, pleaded guilty in a Toledo courtroom to aggravated murder, tampering with evidence, abuse of a corpse and obstructing justice. The plea deal calls for a life sentence with parole eligibility after 25 years.
The girl’s mother, Angela Steinfurth, was due in court Tuesday afternoon to face similar charges.
Investigators spent the past six months looking into what happened to Elaina Steinfurth before a grand jury indicted the two on Monday. Both have been in jail since the summer on obstruction charges filed after Elaina was reported missing in early June.
Authorities searched homes, vacant buildings and the Maumee River near downtown for any sign of Elaina while volunteers looked through neighborhoods and parks. The girl’s remains were found in September inside a box in the rafters of a garage that belongs to King’s family.
DNA tests confirmed the skeletal remains were of Elaina.
Angela Steinfurth and her two daughters stayed with King at his family’s home on June 1, investigators have said. Elaina’s father went to the residence to pick up his two daughters the next day, but only Elaina’s 4-year-old sister could be found.
Investigators have said Steinfurth knew Elaina had been seriously injured and didn’t seek medical help. She has been in jail since mid-June and wasn’t allowed to leave for Elaina’s funeral in September.
King was charged in July with lying to investigators about the child’s disappearance. He told reporters after his arrest that he was innocent.
The county coroner’s office said in November that Eliana suffered injuries indicating “non-accidental trauma,” and that there were severe, acute fractures to the girl’s arm and leg joints.