A 37-year-old Florida woman has been found guilty of killing her autistic stepdaughter, despite putting the blame on her husband.
According to reports, Misty Stoddard killed her 11-year-old stepdaughter, Melissa Stoddard, in December of 2012 after tying her to a wooden plank and duct-taping her mouth shut so tightly that she became brain dead. Reports say that Melissa had moved in with her father in Florida just five months prior to her death to escape her abusive mother in North Carolina.
During the court proceedings, Misty’s son testified that his mother and Melissa’s father, Kenneth, would sometimes stuff a sock in the 11-year-old’s mouth and duct-tape it in place around her head. Misty’s son also claimed that he witnessed the couple tie Melissa to the board multiple times during the week of her death.
Throughout the trial, Misty maintained that her husband was to blame for Melissa’s death, saying that he was the one who tied her to the board to fulfill sexual fantasies. Her claims didn’t hold up, however, as a cellmate that sat with her in prison after her initial arrest testified that Misty told her everything.
"I actually know the names of all of her children," said cellmate Barbara Whiteaker. "I was in isolation with her. [Misty said] Melissa was acting out; she was screaming and hollering. She took Melissa into the bedroom and tied her up to the board. Melissa was screaming for 15 minutes. [Misty] was upset about it. She was extremely upset that [Melissa] was still screaming, so she proceeded to go into the bedroom and duct tape her mouth. She proceeded to take off the duct tape off her mouth, and she wasn't breathing.”
Misty called 911 after discovering that her stepdaughter wasn’t breathing, and a few days later, Melissa died at the hospital. Now, Misty has been found guilty of first-degree murder and will spend the rest of her life in jail.
Kenneth Stoddard is set to appear in court in August, facing manslaughter charges.