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Daycare worker charged with murder of 3-year-old who ‘refused to take coat off

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It all makes a kind of perverse sense in a world where increasingly adult actions toward children arise out of impulses that form in the spleen, rather than the brain. In this instance the owner of a daycare facility was confronted with a 3-year-old girl who “refused to take her coat off.” So “the adult in the room,” 33-year-old Rochelle Lynn Sapp (shown here), threw the child to the ground with such force that it fractured her skull. She died two days after sustaining the injury.

The Associated Press reports via the Huffington Post that Sapp was arrested last Thursday after an autopsy and other test results confirmed that the child, Autumn Elgersma, died of blunt force head trauma and her death was ruled a homicide by the Iowa medical examiner.

On Friday, Sioux County Attorney Coleman McAllister charged Sapp with first-degree murder. She is currently in jail after bond was set at $250,000.

According to McAllister, Sapp was offering daycare services at her Orange City, Iowa, home on Oct. 29 when the child “experienced serious head injuries.” Sapp initially told police that Autumn was hurt when she accidentally fell down some stairs. Under interrogation, Sapp wilted and admitted to having hurled the child against the floor in a moment of rage.

Early charges of willful injury and child endangerment were dropped in favor of murder. McAllister explains:

In this case the initial charges were based on the medical evidence and opinion available to the state at that time. 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.

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

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.

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