By GREG JORDAN
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
FARMINGTON, Utah —
A preliminary hearing in a Utah court that will determine whether the case of a man accused to killing a 4-year-old Tazewell County, Va., boy, will resume in April.
Nathanael Warren Sloop, 34, was arrested on May 11, 2010 after the murder of Ethan Stacy, the biological son of 30-year-old Stephanie Sloop; the mother was also arrested. Both are being held without bond in a Utah jail. Stephanie Sloop later filed a petition to have her marriage annulled.
A preliminary hearing that began this week was originally scheduled to conclude Friday, but it was later postponed. It will resume on April 19, according to a clerk with the Davis County Attorney’s Office.
Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty in Nathanael Sloop’s case. No decision about whether to seek the same penalty against Stephanie Sloop has been made.
The case began on May 11, 2010 after the couple told the Layton Police Department that that the boy was missing. Ethan Stacy had been visiting his mother in Utah as part of a custody agreement reached with his biological father, Joe G. Stacy of Richlands, Va.
Layton police, the Davis County Sheriff’s Office, and the region’s Child Abduction Response team conducted an extensive search. Both Nathanael and Stephanie Sloop changed their stories numerous times, Detective B. Plotnick of the Layton City Police Department said in his report.
Stephanie Sloop told investigators that Nathanael Sloop had become upset with her son and had beaten him for several days. At one point Ethan was locked in a room so they could leave and get married; they were unmarried at that time.
“Stephanie told us that she never got medical attention for Ethan, even though she knew that medical attention was needed,” Plotnick said in his report. She also said she did not seek a doctor because she feared Nathanael would harm her if she tried to do so.
The couple found Ethan dead the morning of May 9, 2010. The child’s body was taken into the nearby mountains and buried. After searchers found the body, a medical examiner determined that the boy’s face and teeth had been disfigured with a hammer to hinder identification. Stephanie Sloop told officers that she had purchased lighter fluid for Nathanael “because he wanted to burn the body,” Plotnick said.
Nathanael Sloop faces felony charges including aggravated murder; child abuse; obstruction of justice; and abuse or desecration of a body. Stephanie Sloop is also facing charges of aggravated murder, child abuse, obstructing justice, and abuse or desecration of a body.
No preliminary hearing has been scheduled yet for Stephanie Sloop, and prosecutors have not decided whether to seek the death penalty in her case, the clerk stated.
Ethan Stacy was laid to rest May 19, 2010 at the Clinch Valley Memorial Cemetery in Richlands, Va., after a memorial service in Grundy, Va.