LAYTON — On May 6, Nathan and Stephanie Sloop went to the Davis County Courthouse to get married.
What no one in the courtroom could have imagined was that while the Sloops were being joined in holy matrimony, Stephanie Sloop's 4-year-old son was locked in a bedroom in their Layton home. The Sloops were afraid to take Ethan Stacy out in public because of severe head injuries allegedly inflicted by Nathan in what jail records described as a "systematic and progressively more violent pattern of abuse toward Ethan."
The documents written by investigators were released late Wednesday and paint an extremely disturbing picture of the last days of the young boy's life. His body was found buried near Powder Mountain Ski Resort Tuesday after his mother initially told police he had wandered off and was missing.
The injuries to Ethan's face were so significant that the Sloops "were afraid to take him out in public with the swelling and bruising to his face and that someone would call police," according to probable cause affidavits written to justify jailing the couple.
Police say Nathan Sloop "removed the door handle from the bedroom" to keep Ethan locked inside while they were gone.
Stephanie Sloop told police Nathan severely beat Ethan on May 5, the affidavits state.
Between May 5-8, Ethan "exhibited signs and symptoms of a possible head injury or brain swelling due to a head injury," Stephanie Sloop told police Tuesday while being interviewed about her son's death. Ethan did not eat well, was vomiting, lethargic and exhibited non-responsive behavior, according to the reports.
"Stephanie told us she never got medical attention for Ethan, even though she knew that medical attention was needed," detectives wrote.
Stephanie took cell phone pictures documenting the increased swelling. Police say Nathan Sloop originally told them it was due to a peanut allergy.
On the day after the wedding, Stephanie Sloop said her new husband called her while she was shopping to say that Ethan had burned himself in a hot tub of water. When she returned, she said Ethan was badly burned on his feet, legs and buttocks and she believed Nathan Sloop intentionally burned him, the affidavit states.
She also told police she noticed feces in the child's mouth and she brushed his mouth until his gums bled. The next day, she said, Ethan had smeared his feces on the bathroom walls and on his step-father and she found feces in his mouth again, detectives wrote.
Sunday morning, on Mother's Day, the Sloops found Ethan dead in his bed.
They then "worked together to formulate a plan to dispose of the body and deceive law enforcement," the documents state. The boy's body was wrapped in plastic garbage bags and taped up. The Sloops drove to Powder Mountain, where he was buried and other evidence was burned at the gravesite.
"Mr. Sloop said he buried Ethan and brought Mrs. Sloop to the site to say her goodbyes," according to the affidavits. "They also took intentional steps to try and deface and disfigure Ethan's body in an effort to delay identification."
Jail records say Nathan Sloop used a hammer to purposely try to disfigure Ethan's face and teeth. He then allegedly obtained unidentified chemicals to destroy potential evidence. Stephanie Sloop told police she was told to buy two cans of lighter fluid.
Homicide detectives say a pattern of increasingly violent abuse toward Ethan "was done in a manner that was recklessly indifferent to the child's welfare."
After reviewing the documents Wednesday, a judge denied bail for Nathan Sloop and set $100,000 bail for Stephanie Sloop.
Father was reluctant to send him Utah
Joe G. Stacy said he never wanted to send his 4-year-old son to Utah.
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