Baby Elaina's family cries foul, Police call toddler 'highest priority'
Fri, 19 Jul 2013 00:24:38 GMT —
46 days after the disappearance of an East Toledo toddler, Elaina Steinfurth, a Toledo Police spokesman says her disappearance "is their highest priority case right now".
Still, on Wednesday, Elaina's father and family expressed frustration with local officials that they say have not been keeping them informed on the case.
"They have not been in contact with us. Hopefully, we're going to say, they're doing their job out there," Baby Elaina's aunt Ginger Smith said.
"I actually went down to the Mayor's office and spoke to the Mayor of Police and Fire and she was supposed to get in touch with the two lead detectives to have them contact me more. Have they been? No." Elaina's father, T.J. Steinfurth added.
A spokesperson for Mayor Mike Bell's office disputes Ms. Smith and Mr.Steinfurth's claims saying that a Toledo Police Detective reported speaking with the family as recently as last week.
Mayor Mike Bell's spokesperson Jen Sorgenfrei added that in early July the family was briefed on the case, but only with what police could reveal without compromising their investigation.
In response to T.J's visit to One Government Center, Sorgenfrei said "Mr. Steinfurth and his aunt met on Monday, July 8th with Shirley Green, deputy mayor of public safety and personnel who further explained the investigatory process to them. Their request on that date was for the mayor to make a public statement because the media was losing interest in the case - again, the Mayor will not interfere with an ongoing police investigation".
But WNWO pointed out that Mayor Bell did then make a public statement, even visiting the Moody Manor apartment complex, in August 2012 following the death of one child and wounding of another.
In Addition, Bell issued a public plea for community involvement following the murder of 81-year-old Fannie Mae Smith, in January 2012.
Sorgenfrei responded, "The two incidents you mention are very different from the current and ongoing case. The mayor's statements in those instances were a call to stop the violence in the city - he was not speaking to the investigation".
Several of Baby Elaina's family members and others in the East Toledo community have expressed to WNWO, that they don't see the difference between those cases and Baby Elaina's disappearance.
"This Mayor should be ashamed. Like him or not he has said NOTHING and done NOTHING," WNWO's Facebook fan Susan Seeman said on July 10th.
"I think it shows a very political line when Mayor Mike Bell was at the Moody Apartments the very next day showing his support of that family and promising to get answers!! Yet hasn't bother to even recognize this baby or the families involved!!," WNWO's Facebook fan Christie Heuring-Edmonds added on July 11th.
Whether a political decision or rule that the Mayor not to get involved, Toledo Police say they are still working feverishly on Elaina's case.
Toledo Police Spokesman, Sgt. Joe Heffernan says Toledo Police have documented speaking with the Steinfurth's on 3 occasions this month but concedes "we understand their frustration".
Heffernan added "We are keeping [T.J] informed with what we can say...but as in all criminal cases we have to do what's best for the case."
In the past, Elaina's father has acknowledged that Police may not be able to tell him everything but still wishes they would reach out to him more.
"At the end of the day...I feel I gotta let them do what they do and I gotta do what I gotta do. If that means me chasing down leads and doing my own detective work , that's what I am going to do," Steinfurth said.
Answering to a victim's family members, sometimes desperate for information, is something that Toledo Police know comes with the territory.
Also citing the Moody Manor shooting case, Heffernan said that relatives of 1-year-old Keondra Hooks and her sister Leondra begged authorities for information on a daily basis.
Heffernan said that while they wish they could reveal more, in cases like these, releasing certain types of information too early or to the wrong people can compromise their investigation.
"Let us do our job," Heffernan said.
On Wednesday, Elaina's father and paternal family members announced that they would be scaling back thier civilian search efforts to locate the missing toddler.
Steinfurth assured those that have been looking and praying for his daughter that he is not giving up on finding her but needed to focus on the well-being of his other daughter, Kylee.
Elaina's mother, Angela Steinfurth, remains behind bars on an obstruction of justice charge in the case.
Authorities say that Angela and her ex-boyfriend, Steven King, were the last people to see Elaina on June 2nd.
Police say that King is not a suspect and he has not been charged with anything in regards to Elaina's disappearance.