Stepmother Charged in SW Florida Girl's Death

By: AP
By: AP

SARASOTA, Fla. (AP) -- A southwest Florida woman has been charged with aggravated child abuse in the death of her 11-year-old stepdaughter.

Authorities previously charged only Melissa Stoddard's father in her death. The Sarasota County Sheriff's Office says the girl was repeatedly strapped down to a board or tied up for hours.

The sheriff's office tells the Sarasota Herald-Tribune that Kenneth and Misty Stoddard told investigators that they tied up the girl for "behavioral issues." The medical examiner determined that Melissa died from a lack of oxygen to the brain.

Melissa died after being found unresponsive at home Dec. 12.

Kenneth Stoddard was held without bond Saturday on a charge of aggravated child abuse. His wife Misty was held on $50,000 bond. Jail records did not show whether either had an attorney.

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