Father questioned in two tots' drowning

Oct. 20, 2010 at 3:19 PM
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DETROIT, Oct. 20 (UPI) -- A Michigan community is in shock over the deaths of two toddlers whose father is being questioned in the case.

Police said Steven Nicholson, 27, of Allen Park, called 911 at 2:16 a.m. Tuesday, saying his children had drowned in the bathtub, the Detroit Free Press reported Wednesday. They found Ella Stafford, 15 months old, and Jonathon Sanderlin, 13 months old, dead.

No charges have been filed against Nicholson. Police said he remained in custody late Tuesday and was cooperating.

Neighbors told the newspaper police regularly visited the apartment. Detective Lt. James Wilkewitz recalled at least one check on the children's well-being but no trouble was found with their care.

Ella's mother, Tayler Stafford, 19, of Melvindale, said, "There are no words to describe how I'm feeling right now. … My daughter loved her father very much."

Nicholson is believed to have had sole custody of Jonathon and visitation rights with Ella.

Jonathon's mother, Sara Sanderlin, lives in the Upper Peninsula, Nicholson's family said. Wilkewitz said officials have been in contact with both mothers.

The Wayne County Medical Examiner's Office is expected to perform an autopsy Wednesday.

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