Vigil, balloon release marks year anniversary of Elaina’s deathWritten by Sarah Ottney | Managing Editor | email@example.com
A group of family, friends and community members gathered in East Toledo on June 2 to mourn, remember, pray and release balloons and paper lanterns to mark the one-year anniversary of the death of 18-month-old Elaina Steinfurth.
The toddler was reported missing on June 2, 2013. The case garnered national attention, with law enforcement and volunteer search parties looking for months before her body was discovered hidden in the rafters of the garage of the home she’d been staying in the night she disappeared.
In December, her mother, Angela Steinfurth, and mother’s boyfriend, Steven W. King, accepted plea deals and were sentenced to life in prison for her murder.
Both of Elaina’s grandfathers attended the vigil and said they were humbled so many people came out to remember Elaina.
“It means a lot to me. It means an awful lot to me,” Angela’s stepfather Richard Schiewe said. “It does mean a lot that everybody’s still remembering her. I’ll never forget her. Never ever.”
“It’s heartwarming,” said Terry Steinfurth Sr. “We’ve got a lot of support. A lot more support that what I ever thought we’d get, and we’re getting it from people we don’t even know.”
During the event, Steinfurth Sr. fielded several requests for leftover T-shirts from an AMVETS Riders motorcycle event held May 31 in memory of Elaina. Proceeds from the event will be donated to Monroe-based nonprofit Justice for Nevaeh in Elaina’s name. Steinfurth Sr. said the ride is expected to become an annual event with proceeds donated a different organization that fights child abuse each year.
“[We get asked to do events and] it’s hard, but it keeps her name alive and that’s what we want to do,” Steinfurth Sr. said. “We just don’t want her forgotten.”