FARMINGTON, Utah (AP/CBS) Aggravated murder charges were filed Friday against Ethan Stacy's mother and stepfather, who police say brutally beat the 4-year-old until he died, disfigured him and then buried him in the mountains.
The Davis County attorney's office said Stephanie Sloop, 27, and her husband, 31-year-old Nathanael, are also charged with child abuse, obstruction of justice and abuse or desecration of a body, all felonies. These charges make the Sloops eligible for the death penalty.
Ethan's body was found wrapped in plastic in Ogden canyon in Utah on May 11. His mother and stepfather reported him missing a day earlier, saying that he wandered out of the family's apartment in Layton. He had arrived in Utah about 10 days earlier from his father's house in Virginia for a court ordered summer visit with his mother.
"The criminal acts included beatings, burning, drugging, isolating, malnourishing, leaving the child alone and unattended while suffering, and refusing to seek vital life-sustaining medical attention," the charges state. "After causing the child's death, the defendant, as a party, desecrated and buried the child's body."
Police records say Stephanie Sloop told investigators she bought two cans of lighter fluid for Nathanael Sloop to burn the body before it was buried. The reports didn't say whether that was actually done.
The Sloops are being held without bail in the Davis County Jail. An initial court appearance on the charges was scheduled for Friday in 2nd District Court.
Ethan Stacy's body was returned to his father, Joe Stacy, and buried last week in Virginia. A message left with Joe Stacy on Friday was not immediately returned.
According to probable cause documents from the Layton County Sheriff's Department concerning the arrest of Ethan's mother Stephanie Sloop, the mom received a phone call from Nathanael Sloop on May 7, saying the 4-year-old had burned himself while taking a bath.
When Stephanie arrived home, the documents say that she found Ethan badly scorched on both feet and along the back of his legs to his buttock area. She also noticed what she described to police as human feces in Ethan's mouth.
Stephanie told investigators that she did not get medical attention for Ethan, thought she felt he needed it, due to fear that her husband would harm her if she tried to do so, according to the documents.
The county attorney's office did not say Friday whether it will seek the death penalty in the case against either of the Sloops. Prosecutors have 60 days to decide.