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If there is such a thing as good news in the case of a missing child, here it is: the disappearance of Elaina Steinfurth is still officially a missing persons case. Police in Toledo, Ohio say they haven't reclassified it as a homicide investigation. Now for the bad news: the missing toddler's own grandfather has said publicly that he thinks his granddaughter is dead.
Is there anything quite as hopeless as a family that's given up hope?
It's hardly surprising that it happens ... there are few situations as desperate. Most parents live in fear of ever being in that position, and our insides curdle at the very thought.
Still, there's something particularly unsettling when it happens. We expect to see the families on the news begging for the return of their little one. We don't expect to hear the worst out of their mouths.
Because if they don't think a child will come home alive ... who does?
Richard Schiewe is technically the step-grandfather of little Elaina. Angela Mories, the girl's mom, who was arrested earlier this week on child endangerment charges, is his step-daughter.
He's supporting her, even showed up in court and told her he loved her, but his candid interviews about his missing granddaughter are chilling. He says his step-daughter IS guilty of not taking care of the little girl. What's more, Schiewe told the Toledo Blade he's thought Elaina was dead since June 6 -- four days after the little girl was reported missing by her dad, Terry Steinfurth. That's when a diaper was found on the riverbank, the same size and brand as Elaina's.
Terry Steinfurth, for what it's worth, is still holding out hope that his daughter will be found. He refused to point fingers at his ex or her boyfriend, although the girl was in their care when she disappeared. He only said in interviews that Mories' arrest is "justice" being done.
You've got to respect the guy for not starting a family war in the press. Mories is still the mother of his two kids (Elaina's older sister is safe and well).
But his "justice" comment doesn't exactly sound like he's got much faith in the last adult to see his little girl alive.
Which leaves us with two people who love Elaina and who sound like their faith is pretty much shot.
I think we all want to hold out hope that a little girl will be returned safe and sound. To think otherwise is too painful -- even for those of us who have never met this child. But if her own family's hope is dying, what else is there to think?
I just hope he's wrong ...
Do you watch missing child cases? When do you start to feel like it's hopeless?