FARMINGTON, Utah - Prosecutors in Utah said Friday they may file murder charges against the mother of a 4-year-old boy whose body was found in a canyon earlier this week.
Searchers dug up Ethan Stacy's badly beaten and disfigured body Tuesday, about 10 days after he arrived in Utah for a summer visit with his mother, Stephanie Sloop, 27. Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings said both Sloop and her husband, Nathanael Sloop, 31, will likely be charged with aggravated murder in the boy's death.
Before Friday, the possibility of murder charges had only been discussed for Nathanael Sloop. "We're looking at aggravated murder -- both defendants are suspects at this point," Rawlings said.
Police said Stephanie Sloop initially told officers her son had wandered away from his Layton apartment building. But probable cause statements in the case said Nathanael Sloop, the boy's stepfather, allegedly beat the boy for days before his death and disfigured his face before burying him to prevent him from being identified.
The statements said Stephanie Sloop allegedly did nothing to stop the abuse. Both Sloops may also be charged with felony child abuse, obstruction of justice and desecration of a corpse, Rawlings said.
Both are being held in the Davis County Jail with no bail, Rawlings said. They were expected to appear in court later Friday. Prosecutors are waiting to file charges because there is the potential for the death penalty.
"We're not going to file charges before all of our ducks are in a row and we're ready to go, but we intend to get there," Rawlings said. Attorney Todd Utzinger said he expected to be appointed Nathanael Sloop's defense attorney at the hearing. He said another public defender would likely represent Stephanie Sloop.
Utzinger would not discuss specifics of the case or possible charges. He said he met with both Sloops Friday morning in jail and advised them to stop talking to detectives.