Deaths of Toddlers Ella Stafford and Jonathon Sanderlin Stun Community; Dad Steven Nicholson Says They Drowned in Bathtub

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Deaths of Toddlers Ella Stafford and Jonathon Sanderlin Stun Community; Dad Steven Nicholson Says They Drowned in Bathtub

Post by Justice4all on Sun Oct 24, 2010 4:43 pm

Toddlers' deaths stun community; father says they drowned in bathtub

BY MELANIE D. SCOTT
FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER
POSTED: OCT. 20, 2010



They were brother and sister, not yet 2 years old.

Police said the children's father called 911 at 2:16 a.m. Tuesday, reporting that the toddlers had drowned in the bathtub.

Their deaths shocked neighbors of the Valley Springs apartments and relatives alike.

Photos: Vigil for Ella Stafford

Investigators attracted onlookers as they pulled evidence from the Allen Park home, including two cribs.

Neighbors said police regularly visited the apartment. Detective Lt. James Wilkewitz said his department conducted at least one check on the children's well-being but found no trouble with their care.

When police arrived at the first floor apartment on Tuesday, they found Ella Stafford, 15 months old, and Jonathon Sanderlin, 13 months old, dead.

Wilkewitz said the man in custody has been cooperating with authorities. Police would not name him, but relatives identified him as the children's father, 27-year-old laid-off bricklayer Steven Nicholson.

Ella's mother, Tayler Stafford, 19, of Melvindale said her daughter loved her father.

"I don't know what to feel," Stafford said. "The last time that I saw her was Sunday before I went to work."

Community mourns for toddlers

Tayler Stafford sobbed Tuesday as she sat outside her mother's home, talking about her daughter, 15-month-old Ella Stafford, dancing to Justin Bieber's song "Baby" and how the toddler's face lit up when she saw her father.


Read more: http://www.freep.com/article/20101020/NEWS02/10200432/Toddlers--deaths-stun-community-father-says-they-drowned-in-bathtub


Last edited by Justice4all on Sun Oct 24, 2010 4:48 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Deaths of Toddlers Ella Stafford and Jonathon Sanderlin Stun Community; Dad Steven Nicholson Says They Drowned in Bathtub

Post by Justice4all on Sun Oct 24, 2010 4:47 pm

Family, friends mourn toddlers in bathtub deaths

Micki Steele / The Detroit News
Last Updated: October 23. 2010 1:00AM

Quiet and constant sobbing could be heard during the funeral service in Allen Park today for 15-month-old Ella Grace Stafford.

A service for Ella's 13-month-old half-brother Jonathon Sanderlin was held today in Cadillac. The toddlers drowned early Tuesday morning in their father's bathtub in his Allen Park apartment. Evidence shows the children were scalded with hot water, authorities said.

In the dimly lit chapel, mourners consoled one another as family members and friends paid tearful tributes to the little girl described as intelligent, curious, happy and unafraid to explore life. Stuffed animals rested beside her with Elmo of "Sesame Street" closest to her face in a casket flanked by bright pink flowers and handmade photo collages on easels.

Her mother, Tayler Stafford, was inconsolable.

"That was her first and only child," said family friend Cyndi Dowling. "Tayler's crying so much that I don't think she can cry anymore."

Steven Nicholson, 27, had partial custody of Ella and full custody of Jonathon. When police arrived at Nicholson's garden-level unit at Spring Valley Apartments, the children's bodies were lying on the floor in front of him.


Read more: http://www.detnews.com/article/20101023/METRO/10230385/1409/METRO/Family--friends-mourn-toddlers-in-bathtub-deaths
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Re: Deaths of Toddlers Ella Stafford and Jonathon Sanderlin Stun Community; Dad Steven Nicholson Says They Drowned in Bathtub

Post by Justice4all on Sun Oct 24, 2010 4:50 pm

Allen Park dad charged in deaths of toddlers
'I didn't hurt them,' he says of children; preliminary exam is scheduled for Nov. 1

BY MELANIE D. SCOTT
FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER
POSTED: OCT. 23, 2010

As a teary-eyed Steven Nicholson walked into an Allen Park courtroom Friday, he turned to his family and said he was sorry.

Nicholson shook his head and sobbed even more as 24th District Judge John Courtright charged him with two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of felony murder and two counts of first-degree child abuse in the scalding and drowning deaths of Nicholson's 15-month-old daughter Ella Stafford, and his son, 13-month-old Jonathon Sanderlin.

An Allen Park police officer told the court they received a call from Nicholson at 2:16 a.m. Tuesday that said he believed his toddlers were gone.

When police arrived at Apartment 2 at the Valley Springs Apartments, they said Nicholson, 27, was sitting on the floor with the children lying in front of him. Jonathon had burns on his face and Ella, who also had burns to her body, was pale with purple lips.

The officer also said Nicholson was interviewed and his accounts of what happened in the three-story apartment complex in the 11000 block of Old Goddard were inconsistent with the evidence.

If convicted of first-degree murder, Nicholson faces life in prison. If convicted of felony murder, he would spend life in prison without parole. He is being held without bond in the Wayne County Jail and is to be in court Nov. 1 for a preliminary examination.

Before leaving the courtroom, Nicholson told his family, "I didn't hurt them. I was sleeping."

Nicholson's aunt Sandy Kirby said, "We know you didn't hurt them.


Read more: http://www.freep.com/article/20101023/NEWS02/10230337/1322/Allen-Park-dad-charged-in-deaths-of-toddlers
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Re: Deaths of Toddlers Ella Stafford and Jonathon Sanderlin Stun Community; Dad Steven Nicholson Says They Drowned in Bathtub

Post by Justice4all on Mon Oct 25, 2010 9:22 pm

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Re: Deaths of Toddlers Ella Stafford and Jonathon Sanderlin Stun Community; Dad Steven Nicholson Says They Drowned in Bathtub

Post by Cali on Tue Oct 26, 2010 12:55 am

The father said he didn't hurt them...he was sleeping. So we are to believe that these two toddlers, barely past the first year mark of their short lives, went into the bathroom, put the stopper up in the tub, turned on the hot water, then climbed into the tub, turned the hot water off after the tub filled, and then set about drowning themselves
Two innocent little babes....suffered at the hands of their father....but why? Why the hell why why why??? I just cannot imagine how any parent could do this. Torture and drown two living breathing little babes. Then lie and expect people to believe the half-assed "I was sleeping" excuse. Poor little innocent babes. Now they are up in heaven with all the other little unfortunate babes who are gone too soon by the hands of their own parents.
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Re: Deaths of Toddlers Ella Stafford and Jonathon Sanderlin Stun Community; Dad Steven Nicholson Says They Drowned in Bathtub

Post by Justice4all on Tue Oct 26, 2010 4:34 am

I have a very hard time believing his story Cali. If they somehow did climb in and turn on the hot water, it seems like they would scream loud enough to wake him up and probably climb back out before drowning. I think the family members that believe him are in denial. I really wish I knew why parents would hurt their own children.
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Re: Deaths of Toddlers Ella Stafford and Jonathon Sanderlin Stun Community; Dad Steven Nicholson Says They Drowned in Bathtub

Post by Maat on Tue Oct 26, 2010 10:10 am

I keep thinking he had 2 babies so close together. That meant 2 mothers seeking child support. I can see motive in that.

I do hope this was a tragic accident, but it doesn't seem likely.
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Re: Deaths of Toddlers Ella Stafford and Jonathon Sanderlin Stun Community; Dad Steven Nicholson Says They Drowned in Bathtub

Post by Piper on Fri Oct 29, 2010 11:17 am

It appears little Jonathon's mother lost custody to him.

~Snipped~

Prior to the service at the funeral home, Jonathon's mother, Sarah McGee, wept as she leaned over the casket and told her son "I love you. I'm so sorry. I tried."

McGee lost custody of her son in May to Nicholson after a judge accused McGee of kidnapping Jonathon, McGee has said.


~Another snip~

"Steve treated Little Cash (Jonathon) like he was a responsibility, not a son," she said. "And if it were one baby, it might be plausible that it was an accident, but not two babies."


The above statement was from a family friend of Ella's mother.





From The Detroit News: http://www.detnews.com/article/20101023/METRO/10230385/1409/METRO/Family--friends-mourn-toddlers-in-bathtub-deaths#ixzz13lEkkav5
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Re: Deaths of Toddlers Ella Stafford and Jonathon Sanderlin Stun Community; Dad Steven Nicholson Says They Drowned in Bathtub

Post by Piper on Fri Oct 29, 2010 11:21 am

The article states he had partial custody of Ella and full custody of Jonathon. Did he fight for custody out of spite.....who knows. I don't buy his story. How cruel and evil, those poor babies. Sad
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Re: Deaths of Toddlers Ella Stafford and Jonathon Sanderlin Stun Community; Dad Steven Nicholson Says They Drowned in Bathtub

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