Father answerable with adolescent abuse; authorities say stepmother has not been arrested because she is ailing afterwards suicide attempt
At a account appointment Thursday afternoon, Sheriff Tom Knight and Capt. Jeff Bell explained why Melissa Stoddard’s stepmother, Misty Stoddard, has not been arrested in the 11-year-old’s death.
Misty Stoddard is in an bearding hospital, bare to investigators. Afterwards she abstruse detectives were investigating herself and her common-law husband, Kenneth, for aggravated adolescent abuse, she approved to annihilate herself.
Misty Stoddard is additionally pregnant.
Neither Knight nor his arch of detectives captivated aback their impressions of the case.
“It’s a abhorrent abomination adjoin an 11-year-old child,” Knight said. “As parents, we can never acquire why adults corruption a child.”
“In 30 years, I can’t anticipate of addition case breadth it’s so blatant,” Bell said.
Both men explained that added arrests and added austere accuse — including annihilation — are likely.
Charging addition with murder, they said, is a “complex process” that requires abundant ascribe from physicians, the medical examiner and the State Attorney’s Office.
For now, they said, the brace is not in a position to corruption anyone.
“I feel actual acceptable we acquire Kenneth Stoddard bound up in our bastille breadth he belongs,” Knight said.
Bell said that Kenneth Stoddard and his ex-wife, Lisha, had two children, Melissa and her 15-year-old brother. Both of these accouchement are autistic.
Misty Stoddard, Melissa’s stepmother, had two accouchement from a antecedent relationship.
She and Kenneth Stoddard had three accouchement together.
None of the added accouchement showed any signs of abuse, sheriff’s admiral say.
Melissa came to alive with them about three months ago, as allotment of a consensual aegis acceding amid Kenneth and his ex-wife.
“She was advantageous back she got here,” Knight said.
He and Bell, both acutely uncomfortable, declared the accessories Melissa’s ancestor and stepmother acclimated at their home, which Bell said were “more ache than treatment.”
They would allegedly band her to a plywood lath that had holes accomplished through it for braiding restraints.
Duct tape, they said, was a “frequently acclimated adjustment of restraint.”
Behind the home was a belted area, which the added accouchement had alleged a corral, breadth Melissa was fed.
The adolescent babe absent added than 20 pounds during her three-month stay, they said.
“I can’t anticipate of any accident at all breadth this blazon of analysis would be justified,” Bell said.
A buzz alarm from a Sarasota sheriff’s detective burst Lisha Stoddard’s apple this week, back she abstruse that her daughter, 11-year-old Melissa, died Monday and that her ex-husband was answerable with aggravated adolescent corruption in the girl’s death.
“I am sad, shocked, affronted and confused,” Lisha Stoddard said. “I can’t acquire Melissa is no best with me. She was such a happy, blithesome child.”
Her mother declared Melissa as a blessed adolescent who admired to ascend trees, sing and swim.
“She was happy. She was actual absorbing and consistently dancing,” Lisha Stoddard said Thursday, from her home in North Carolina.
“Her admired things in academy were arts and crafts, but annihilation that had to do with plays or singing, she admired that too.”
Melissa was autistic, but the ataxia was not profound, her mother said.
“She had a balmy form,” her mother said. “Her better botheration was verbal. She could speak, but not well. She had a little bit of behavioral issues, but not with me.”
Melissa had been active in Sarasota with her ancestor Kenneth Stoddard for the accomplished three months. Lisha Stoddard would not say why.
Detectives said Melissa was commonly angry up and aseptic by her ancestor and her stepmother, Misty Stoddard, as punishment, and that they additionally put aqueduct band over her aperture to accumulate her from agreeable and acting out. Assembly saw band marks on Melissa’s accoutrements and her legs that embodied some of those claims.
The medical examiner’s appointment has bent the account of afterlife to be hypoxia, a abridgement of oxygen to the brain.
Lisha Stoddard said she knew her ex-husband as a acceptable parent, but that she knew little about her daughter’s stepmother.
“I’ve alone apparent her once, never had any interactions with her,” she said. “I alone batten to her already over the phone.”
In the dupe beyond the artery from the Stoddard house, in the 9000 block of Delft Road, assembly begin two boards that her ancestors say the parents acclimated to tie Melissa to, befitting her anchored for continued periods of time. Her ancestor and stepmother had additionally ancient a helmet with abstemiousness straps, assembly say, which was begin in the aforementioned abounding abode as the boards. Along with the boards and the helmet, assembly begin several rolls of aqueduct tape. Wads of acclimated aqueduct band were begin both central the abode and in a abode alfresco the abode that the accouchement alleged the “time out” area.
Stoddard and Melissa’s stepmother gave differing accounts to investigators.
Melissa was above back emergency admiral responded to the ancestors home at 10 p.m. aftermost Wednesday, Dec. 12. She was taken aboriginal by ambulance to Doctor’s Hospital, again transferred to All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg.
Melissa died at 5:39 a.m. on Monday, afterwards bristles canicule of medical care. The added children, ages 4 through 15, acquire been placed in advance care.
Lisha Stoddard said she never witnessed any corruption while affiliated to Kenneth.
“He was a acceptable father, consistently acceptable to them and her daughter,” she said. “When we were married, he was consistently acceptable to them.”
As to the accusation her ex-husband angry up Melissa, her mother said, “I never saw that before.”
The brace met at Camp Lejeune, while they were both confined in the Marine Corps. Lisha was accomplished as an electrician. Kenneth was an artilleryman. They affiliated in 1998 and afar in 2008.
They filed for defalcation protections, Chapter 7, in 2000.
They had two accouchement together, Melissa and one son, age 13, who is disturbing to acquire the accident of his sister.
“They played calm all the time. She could exhausted him up. He’s a big softie,” Lisha said.
Melissa abounding Oak Park School, which is a accessible academy for acceptance with disabilities at 7285 Proctor Rd.
The child’s afterlife was tragic, abnormally so aing to the holidays and the Newtown shootings, said academy commune agent Gary Leatherman.
“For us to lose a apprentice in our system, it aloof has bodies sad. They’re aggravating to cope with their own feelings.”
He said he was not accustomed to accommodate added advice on Melissa, including her attendance, at her family’s request.
Grief attorneys are at Oak Park Academy today to allocution to classmates of Melissa’s and academy staff, to advice them accord with grief.
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