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Starke County Prosecutor Nicholas Bourff held a press conference Friday afternoon to announce the arrest of Stacie Brown, 34, of 1180 S. 300 E. Knox, for the June 22 death of 3-year-old Ethan Brown, her stepson. Brown is being charged with two Class A Felonies: Battery resulting in death and Neglect of a dependent resulting in death. She is being held on a $250,000 bond.
Dave Combs, a detective with the Knox City Police Department, brought Brown in for questioning Friday, Aug. 5. Combs advised Brown of her civil and constitutional rights which she waived. She then proceeded to tell Detective Combs about the events that led up to the death of young Ethan.
Brown said that on Saturday, June 18, she was taking care of Ethan and her 18-month-old daughter, while her husband was at work. She said she became angry with the toddler because he was fighting with his stepsister. Brown said she shoved Ethan to the floor, where he struck his head.
Brown told Detective Combs that she knew the fall had injured Ethan because he was acting strangely: He was slow in his responses, clumsy. Brown said she then put Ethan to bed. After awhile, Brown went to check on Ethan and found him warm to the touch. Sunday morning, when she tried to get him up, he didnâ€™t want to wake. Brown said she considered getting the child medical attention, but then decided not to.
Ethanâ€™s father, Trampes Brown told Detective Combs he checked on his son when he came home from work and the child was asleep. On Sunday, Trampes Brown was transported from his residence to IU Starke Hospital for diabetes complications. When Trampes Brown returned home, he found his son was still in bed. Later on, he said Stacie told him that Ethan was having trouble breathing. At that point, Trampes Brown went and got his son and carried him out to his truck. He and Brown drove Ethan to the hospital, which was a few blocks from their home.
When Detective Combs was contacted by IU Starke Hospital, he was informed that a 3-year-old toddler had been carried in by his father. The child had no pulse, a skull fracture, severe swelling to his brain and multiple bruises to his head and face.
Ethan died at 2:35 p.m. Tuesday, June 21, three days after his fatal fall, at Memorial Hospital of South Bend as a result of his injuries. It has not been said whether or not the child would have had a chance had his stepmother sought immediate medical care or even if sheâ€™d informed EMTs when they were at her home for Trampes Brown that Ethan was gravely injured and lying in his bed.
Detective Combs said that on Wednesday, June 22, he attended Ethanâ€™s autopsy which was performed by Forensic Pathologist Dr. Joseph Prahlow. Combs said that during the procedure, he observed that Ethan had a skull fracture that ran from the back of his skull to the top of his forehead. Ethan also had evidence of large amounts of bleeding to his brain. The cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head.
Starke County hasnâ€™t had a death of a child from physical abuse by a caregiver since April of 2000, when John Dumitru bludgeoned his 12-year-old stepdaughter Liliana Ciprianu to death for failing to clean the house adequately.
Then Starke County Circuit Court Judge David Matsey sentenced Dumitru to 115 years for the murder of his step-child. He is currently, serving out his term at the Indiana State Prison with no chance of parole.