Pretty much the worst has happened in the Elaina Steinfurth case. Police in Ohio have confirmed that the human remains found in the garage belonging to Elaina's mom's boyfriend, Steven King, are that of the missing toddler. The DNA matched.
It's a fear those of us watching the case have had from the beginning. Sadly missing children often end up as dead children.
And sadly ... often those children are hurt by people who they knew, people they trusted. That's what we're facing with the Elaina case right now.
Police haven't said who they will charge with Elaina's murder. The autopsy was inconclusive, and no doubt there is more evidence to be gathered. Both Elaina's mom, Angela Mories Steinfurth, and Steven King are in jail already on charges related to her disappearance.
But with her discovery right at home, right on the property where she was last seen, it's pretty safe to say that she was not kidnapped by a stranger, not stolen away in the middle of the night.
It's hard to say which is more unsettling: the thought that there are babysnatchers out there, people who sneak into children's bedrooms in the middle of the night and make off with our precious little ones or the thought that there are people out there who would snuff the life out of a child they were charged with loving and caring for.
Both are sick. But the former puts an entire community in fear. The latter just the children in that particular person's care.
Which is worse? Is there really any comparison?
I don't know that there is. They're awful in their own ways, and they're both problems we have to face in our society with stories like Elaina's.
There are people who fail kids in the worst of ways.
All we can do is continue to be better than that, to hold our own kids close, and to hope that justice will be served.
How do you feel knowing this little girl's fate?
Image via National Center for Missing and Exploited Children