Kenneth Stoddard, a 35-year-old Florida man, was jailed Wednesday after he repeatedly hogtied his 11-year-old daughter to a bed post.
The assault, investigators say, caused the little girl severe brain damage and eventually led to her death.
According to the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office, emergency responders were called to the family’s home last Wednesday when the little girl stopped breathing and became unresponsive.
The victim, identified as 11-year-old Melissa Stoddard, was rushed to Doctor’s Hospital of Sarasota She was then transferred to All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg where doctors determined that she had suffered severe brain damage. Melissa Stoddard passed away five days later.
The county medical examiner’s office determined that the girl died from hypoxia. The report also noted that the girl had ligature marks on her upper arms, wrists, ankles and thigh area.
Florida DCF officials removed 5 children from the home, some of which told investigators that the girl was “hog tied” to a board and her mouth was covered with duct tape on a regular basis. The children also stated that the victim was sometimes tied up and then placed into a filthy family pool as punishment for bad behavior.
Kenneth Stoddard and his wife, Misty Stoddard, told investigators that they tied the girl up to keep her from harming herself or her siblings.
Misty Stoddard told DCF investigators that she thought the victim was “faking” when she went to check on her and found her unresponsive. When she checked again a few minutes later and saw that the victim was still unresponsive, she reportedly called 911.
Detectives noted in their report that Misty Stoddard gave several conflicting accounts of what happened prior to the little girl’s death. At one point in the interview, Mrs. Stoddard stopped answering questions and demanded to speak to an attorney.
A 15-year-old sibling told detectives that he was asked to help his mother remove a board from the house that was used to tie the victim down – even as the ambulance was en route to their home. The sibling also stated that he was instructed to bring scissors to cut the victim free and to dispose of the board in a wooded area across the street.
During a search of the home and immediate vicinity, investigators found two restraint boards, several rolls of duct tape and a helmet that had restraint straps tied to it. Clumps of used duct tape were found in and around areas where the little girl was bound.
Kenneth Stoddard was booked into jail and charged with aggravated child abuse. Charges in his case may be upgraded since the little girl passed away after his initial arrest.
Authorities have not indicated why Misty Stoddard has not yet been arrested, however the investigation is continuing and additional charges in the case are expected.