Orange City, Iowa — New charges have been filed in the death of a 3-year old Orange City girl in October.
At a noontime press conference Thursday, Sioux County Attorney Coleman McAllister, flanked by Orange City Police Chief Jim Pottebaum and Iowa DCI Special Agent In Charge Mitch Mortvedt, announced that 33-year old Rochelle Sapp of Orange City was arrested earlier Thursday on charges of 1st Degree Murder and Child Endangerment Resulting in Death, in connection with the death of 3-year old Autmun Elgersma of Orange City.
McAllister says that on Tuesday, October 29, 2013, Sapp was providing day care services at her residence to Autumn Elgersma. McAllister says an incident occurred in Sapp’s home which resulted in Autumn being hospitalized with severe head trauma.
He says Autumn was initially treated for her injuries at the Orange City Hospital, but because of the severity of her injuries, she was subsequently airlifted to Sanford Hospital in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Autumn died as a result of her injuries on October 31, 2013.
McAllister said an autopsy was conducted by the State Medical Examiner’s Office in Ankeny, and they have now released their findings concerning Autumn’s death. He said the medical examiner has determined that Autumn died as a result of a blunt force head injury and that her death has been ruled a homicide.
McAllister reports that Sapp was arrested at her home Thursday morning, without incident, by officers of the Orange City Police Department, and taken to the Sioux County Jail where she was being held in lieu of $250,000 bond. He says Sapp will make her initial appearance in Sioux County District Court within 24 hours.
McAllister says the Orange City Police Department, the Minnehaha, South Dakota County Sheriff’s Office, the Sioux Falls, South Dakota Police Department, and the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation all took part in the investigation.
He stressed that a criminal charge is merely an accusation, and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
McAllister took questions at the end of his prepared statement, but cautioned reporters that he was not at liberty to discuss any facets of the case that aren’t currently part of the public record.
When asked why it took more than a month after Autumn’s death to file these charges, McAllister said that in such a case, it’s important that the investigation be careful, thorough and comprehensive.
We’ll bring you more information as the case progresses.