Elaina Steinfurth News: Missing Ohio Toddler Case 'Highest Priority' For Toledo Police; What Do Investigators Know About Baby Elaina? [REPORT]

By Beth Roeser July 22, 2013 2:06 PM EDT
Elaina Steinfurth has been missing for 50 days. Is the case really the Toledo Police Department's
Elaina Steinfurth has been missing for 50 days. Is the case really the Toledo Police Department's "highest priority"? (Photo: Facebook / Find Baby Elaina)

It's been 50 days now since Ohio toddler Elaina Steinfurth disappeared, and while a Toledo Police spokesman says the Baby Elaina disappearance is "their highest priority case right now," the lack of news and updates has left Elaina's father and family frustrated.

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"They have not been in contact with us," said Ginger Smith, Baby Elaina's aunt. "Hopefully, we're going to say, they're doing their job out there."

Elaina's father T.J. Steinfurth has repeatedly raised concerns over the lack of communication between the Toledo Police Department and Elaina's family members, saying that detectives have failed to keep in touch with him regarding their progress on the case. "I actually went down to the Mayor's office and spoke to the Mayor of Police and Fire," Steinfurth said, "and she was supposed to get in touch with the two lead detectives to have them contact me more. Have they been? No."

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A spokesperson for Mayor Mike Bell's office begged to differ with the family's claims, claiming that a Toledo Police detective reported having spoken with the family as recently as last week. Mayor's spokesperson Jen Sorgenfrei added that the family was briefed on the case in early July, but that police only revealed information that would not compromise their investigation.

"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," Sorgenfrei said. "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 investigation."

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The Steinfurth family's concern is understandable. Early in the investigation, the case seemed poised to become a new case for Nancy Grace and the HLN network, which covered Elaina's disappearance and the suspicions surrounding her mother Angela Steinfurth heavily. But within a matter of weeks, as no new developments were reported, all signs of the case had disappeared from HLN's homepage.

As for the Sorgenfrei's claim that the mayor does not weigh in on police investigations, WNWO has pointed out that Mayor Bell has made public statements and appearances regarding other investigations, even pleading for community involvement following the murder of 81-year-old Fannie Mae Smith in January 2012. But Sorgenfrei countered that the mayor's statements in such cases were "a call to stop the violence in the city," rather than remarks on active investigations.

Perhaps there is some comfort in the suggestion that police do know more than they are letting on regarding Elaina Steinfurth's case. "We are keeping [T.J.] informed with what we can say," said Toledo Police Spokesman Sgt. Joe Heffernan, "but as in all criminal cases we have to do what's best for the case." Heffernan added, "Let us do our job."

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Elaina Steinfurth's mother, Angela Steinfurth, is still behind bars facing charges of obstruction of justice in connection with the case. Authorities say 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 thus far he has not been charged with any crimes in connection with Elaina's disappearance.

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