Stepmother Of Autistic Girl Found Dead Has Been Arrested

SARASOTA, Fla. (AP) — The stepmother of an 11-year-old autistic girl who was found dead has been arrested on aggravated child abuse charges.

The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office arrested Misty Stoddard on Friday. Ken Stoddard was arrested Wednesday on aggravated child abuse charges in connection with his daughter’s death.

Detectives said that to keep Melissa from moving, the couple used rope to tie her frame to boards with holes drilled into them.

Melissa’s siblings told detectives their parents hog-tied Melissa in front of them, or tied her to the bed. Deputies say Melissa was fed meals outdoors, in a fenced spot the other children called “the corral.”

The Stoddards told authorities they restrained her because of behavioral problems.

Five other children at the home are now with child welfare officials.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

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