An Arizona father was who was arrested late last month for abusing his son was investigated last fall after a 1-year-old foster child inexplicably died while in his care, according to reports.
The Arizona Republic reported that Colin Steffee, 27, was arrested on April 24 after his son emailed El Mirage Police Chief Paul Marzocca and claimed he was “afraid to go home” because Steffee had “punched him, choked him, threw him into the cabinet, striking his head on the counter and floor.” Court documents stated that the boy also alleged Steffee kicked him in the ribs while he was on the floor.
Officers visited the boy at Riverview Elementary School and spoke with the boy’s mother, who reportedly said she witnessed Steffee throw a large Tupperware container at their son’s face, throw him to the ground, and kick him in the ribs. The mother also said she feared for her son’s safety, according to the outlet.
After his arrest, Steffee allegedly told police that he hit his son in the face with a plastic container and tried to anger him by flipping his cup and throwing water at him. He reportedly also confessed to punching him in the face and shoulder, grabbing him by the neck, hitting his head on a counter and stepping on him.
Steffee went on to blame his behavior on anger issues, according to court documents.
The Republic reported that Steffee’s arrest comes months after a foster child, Bella, died in their care under unknown circumstances. A relative of the couple told the outlet that Bella’s death was investigated and officials found no evidence of wrongdoing.
In addition to Steffee’s arrest, the family of a toddler in the couple’s care claimed the child came to a visit last month with cuts under his eyes. The family said they reported the child’s injuries to the Department of Child Services (DCS) nine days before Steffee’s son emailed police.
On the day of Steffee’s arrest, the toddler boy’s mom said a DCS caseworker informed her that her son would be returning to the home. His family told the Republic that Bella’s death, coupled with Steffee’s recent arrest for child abuse and aggravated assault, has led them to wonder whether DCS conducted a thorough investigation of the foster parents.
The Steffees reportedly have adopted five foster children. A friend of the couple revealed that they were planning to adopt a 6-month-old boy but he was removed from the home in light of the foster father’s arrest.
The Republic reported that DCS declined to disclose the whereabouts of the Steffees’ five adopted children or the infant boy removed the home. Further, the outlet alleged DCS wouldn’t confirm whether Bella’s death was listed in their online public fatality and near-fatality database—which is required under the law.
[Featured image: Colin Steffee/Maricopa County Sheriff Office]