Elaina Steinfurth Search Losing Hope? DNA Test Of Human Hair In River To Take Weeks; Will Missing Ohio Toddler's Mom Stay In Jail? [PHOTOS & REPORT]

By Beth Roeser July 9, 2013 7:16 PM EDT
Baby Elaina Steinfurth has been missing for over a month. Is hope fading in the search for the Ohio toddler? (Photo: Facebook)
Baby Elaina Steinfurth has been missing for over a month. Is hope fading in the search for the Ohio toddler? (Photo: Facebook)

Has the search for Elaina Steinfurth reached a dead end? The Ohio toddler was reported missing on June 2 after her mother, Angela Steinfurth, claimed she had disappeared after being put down for a nap. Though Angela has been indicted on a charge of obstructing justice in connection with the case — to which she has pleaded not guilty — the lack of progress in the search for Baby Elaina has frustrated family, friends, and volunteer search organizers.

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RELATED: Volunteers Search Maumee River For Missing Toddler Elaina Steinfurth After 2 Fishermen Discover Hair

The most recent break in the search for Elaina Steinfurth came when two fishermen separately reported finding strands of hair while fishing in the Maumee River. Testing confirmed that at least one of the hair samples was human, but it will take weeks before further DNA testing determines whether it is Elaina's hair.

RELATED: Was Baby Elaina Killed And Thrown Into River? Horrifying Details Of Alleged Confession 

The river has been a key location in the search for Baby Elaina, particularly in the wake of disturbing report from a relative of Angela Steinfurth's cell mate, who allegedly heard Angela confess what happened to the missing toddler. The cell mate allegedly heard that Elaina died after being thrown against a wall by Angela's ex-boyfriend Steven King. The alleged confession detailed how Steinfurth and King carried the body to the High Level Bridge over the Maumee River and dropped it over the edge.

Angela Steinfurth's Twitter posts from 2012: "Bored with the girls; hit me up."

Witnesses in the Federal Street neighborhood where Angela largely resided with her daughters, Elaina and 4-year-old Kylie, have alleged that the children were abused in their mother's care. "I've seen her be abusive, have heard her scream [to Elaina], 'You little bastard!' You know, stuff you just don't say," said Angela Zam. "She was really abusive to the kids. She had a lot of issues. I felt sorry for her."

RELATED: Fisherman's Grim Discovery Reinvigorates Search For Baby Elaina 

Elaina's paternal grandfather, Terry Steinfurth Sr., has seconded the allegations of abuse, claiming that it was a major factor in his son's decision to end his relationship with Angela. "I have seen her smack, yell, scream at [Kylie]. I flat-out told her I don't agree with it," said Steinfurth Sr. "I was very happy when [Terry Steinfurth Jr.] said he was going to try to take custody."

WATCH: Security Footage Of Missing Toddler Elaina Steinfurth With Mom 

A public information officer for Lucas County Children Services confirmed that the agency responded to a call regarding Angela and Steinfurth Jr. earlier this spring. "We investigated a situation where we were concerned about the children being exposed to domestic violence," said LCCS officer Julie Malkin. "In this case, the worker felt that the situation had resolved itself."  

Angela Steinfurth's Twitter, 2012:

Volunteer searchers have been relentless in their efforts to find Baby Elaina Steinfurth, even combing the river themselves with grappling hooks purchased by Terry Steinfurth Jr. On Facebook, communities dedicated to the search for Elaina remain highly active — but as public and media interest in the case appears to wane, volunteers are expressing doubts about authorities' commitment to the investigation.

"Something needs to be done about this now," wrote Facebook user Gina StBonore-Mitchell on the Find Baby Elaina Steinfurth page. "It's very upsetting that this baby is being out on the back burner now like the authorities have given up on her. From what I understand the Coast Guard was only sent out one time after the hair found by the fisherman was confirmed to be human, is that correct?"

Angela Steinfurth has been indicted on a charge of obstructing justice in connection with Elaina's disappearance. (Photo: Facebook)
Angela Steinfurth has been indicted on a charge of obstructing justice in connection with Elaina's disappearance. (Photo: Facebook)

The Toledo Police Department's perceived failure to aggressively follow up on the discovery of hair in the Maumee River was clearly frustrating to volunteer search groups, but Sgt. Joe Heffernan said Monday that the investigation is still a top priority. "We've been continuing to go full-on with the investigation here," he said. "We have an enormous amount of manpower invested in this."

Angela Steinfurth's Twitter, 2012:

Meanwhile, Angela Steinfurth is still in jail. Though her bond has been lowered from $250,000 to $100,000, there is no option to pay 10 percent to the court, meaning she must arrange to pay the full amount. With the help of a bail bondsman, however, Angela could walk out of jail for $5,000 upfront.

WATCH Baby Elaina's Mom Sobbing In Court As Judge Sets Bond At $250K 

"If she has family support, she could be already out," said Shon Hunter, owner of In and Out 24/7 Bail Bonds. To date, there has been no news of Angela Steinfurth's release from jail.

Witnesses allege that Elaina and her older sister Kylie, 4, were abused by their mother Angela Steinfurth. (Photo: Facebook)
Witnesses allege that Elaina and her older sister Kylie, 4, were abused by their mother Angela Steinfurth. (Photo: Facebook)

In lieu of new developments, those following the case of the missing toddler have little to do but comb through the known details again and again in the hopes that luck or fortune will lead to the discovery of Baby Elaina. But if the little girl is dead, and if her remains are indeed hidden in the waters of the Maumee River, each day that passes without a new discovery is a painful blow to those hoping for closure.

Time is the critical factor when a child disappears, and not just when the child is thought to be alive and in danger. We witnessed the power of time in the tragic case of Caylee Anthony, whose remains languished among the trees long enough that prosecutors were unable to convince a jury that they knew how she had died — much less that her mother Casey Anthony deserved the death penalty for her murder. We've seen it this year with Dylan Redwine, whom authorities believe to have been murdered, but may never be able to prove with the majority of his bones still lost somewhere in the Colorado forest.

In some cases, time can destroy evidence and conceal the truth better than any human criminal. Let's hope it spares Baby Elaina.  

Angela Steinfurth's Twitter, 2012:

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