Society

Day Care Provider Rochelle Sapp Charged With Killing 3-Year-Old Autumn Elgersma

| by Khier Casino

An Iowa day care worker was charged Thursday with murdering a 3-year-old girl because she “refused to take her coat off.”

According to the Daily Mail, 33-year-old Rochelle Lynn Sapp is accused of throwing Autumn Elgersma down to the ground with such force it fractured her skull.

The state medical examiner ruled the little girl’s death as a homicide, Sioux County Attorney Coleman McAllister said.

Sapp was taken into custody at the Sioux County Jail and is due to appear before a judge. A bond was set at $250,000, according to McAllister.

The Associated Press reported that Sapp is charged with first-degree murder and child endangerment resulting in death. Her case was not listed in online court records, and an attorney had not been assigned yet.

McAllister says Sapp was offering day care services at her Orange City, Iowa, home on Oct. 29 when Autumn experienced serious head injuries.

McAllister dropped initial willful injury and child endangerment charges when Autumn passed away after spending two days at a Sioux Falls, S.D., hospital.

"In this case the initial charges were based on the medical evidence and opinion available to the state at that time," he said. "Upon Autumn's death, the circumstances changed. The medical examiner's office in Des Moines took time to make sure they did a thorough and complete examination and we like everybody else was waiting for them to render an opinion for us to evaluate so we could move forward with charges."

Police said they were initially told the child was injured when she fell down the stairs while being watched at Sapp’s home.

When Sapp was brought in for questioning, she admitted to throwing Autumn to the floor after becoming angry with her.

Autumn's parents, Philip and Jennifer Elgersma, issued a statement to KTIV on Nov. 1:

"Our family is deeply saddened by the loss of our little girl. The prayers offered by others on our behalf are giving us the strength to get though this very difficult time. Autumn was a joy in our lives and we are blessed to have called her ours. We take comfort in the fact that she is now with her Savior, Jesus Christ.  We ask for your continued thoughts and prayers for our family."