While Nathan and Stephanie Sloop married, battered 4-year-old was home locked in his room, police say
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 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 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 documents released Wednesday by the Davis County Jail.
While the Sloops were getting married, Nathan "removed the door handle from the bedroom" to keep Ethan locked inside.
Joe G. Stacy said never wanted to send his 4-year-old son to Utah.
But following his custody fight, a judge ordered summer visitation with the boy's mother and he had to comply, said Freida Stacy, Joe Stacy's stepmother.
Joe absolutely did not want him to go (to Utah), and she threatened to sue him for kidnapping, threatened him with this and that. He had no choice," Freida Stacy told the Deseret News.
"Ethan did not want to go. Ethan did not want to even talk to (his mother Stephanie Sloop) on the phone. She'd call and he'd say, 'I don't want to talk to her,' Freida Stacy said from her home in Hurley, Va.
"She was just an evil person. There is evil in the world, and she is that."
Joe Stacy received a full briefing about his son's death Wednesday.
"I can't talk right now. I just got the horrible news, talking to prosecutors," the Tazewell, Va., man said. "Right now is not the time."
After speaking with her stepson, Freida Stacy said he was "not good" since receiving the news about Ethan.
Prosecutors planned to hold a news conference Friday to announce formal charges against the Sloops. Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings said his office was still waiting Wednesday for the autopsy report on Ethan, as well as compiling additional evidence from Layton police.
A judge Wednesday denied bail for Nathan Sloop and set $100,000 bail for Stephanie Sloop. He was booked into the Davis County Jail for investigation of aggravated murder. Both were also booked for investigation of child abuse, obstruction of justice and desecration of a corpse.
Investigators have not yet revealed a possible cause of death or motive in the case.
When prosecutors meet, Nathan Sloop could face an additional charge. Jail records indicate he was also booked for investigation of damaging a jail. Police say he damaged a holding cell door Tuesday at the Layton Police Department.
Ethan's biological parents, Joe Stacy and Stephanie Sloop, were married in Florida and lived there and in Georgia. Ethan was the only child they had together.
Freida Stacy called Ethan a "loving little boy who could have accomplished anything. He was a go-getter."
But she believes Stephanie Sloop used the 4-year-old boy as a pawn to hurt her ex-husband.
The wedding announcement page on the Internet for Stephanie and Nathan Sloop talks about love and being soul mates. The page at www.theknot.com
contains photos of the couple and an announcement that they planned to either get married or hold a wedding reception on July 4.
A marriage certificate for the couple, however, indicates they were married last week on May 6 in a civil ceremony in Davis County.
On the page, Nathan Sloop wrote that he and Stephanie had known each other since childhood but only recently began dating. They dated while he was going through a divorce in which he claimed his child was being "kidnapped and being in the middle of a vicious divorce," he wrote.
Nathan Sloop called his relationship with Stephanie a "match made in heaven" and wrote that she was the "woman of his dreams." He described himself as having a "fast thinking brain" and said she respected his "bad boy side."
"I Would Do Anything for her. Fight for Her. Kill for Her. Live for Her!! Die for Her!!," he wrote.
In her comments, she wrote when they first started dating, "We began with full disclosure so that way our exes couldn't try and use things against us," she wrote. "Someone else's garbage is now my treasure," and "Though I loved my ex, we just weren't meant to fit together like Nathan and I do."
She wrote she had complications during surgery while pregnant with twins, but does not say what happened to the twins.
The couple has been together since October, according to their wedding announcement. A reception was to have been held in Golden, Colo., at the home of one of Nathan Sloop's relatives.
former neighbor told the Deseret News that just days ago she saw the Sloops, including Ethan, return to Nathan Sloop's Roy house, which is now up for sale, to move some more items.
Phillips, who admitted her family had an often-confrontational relationship with Nathan Sloop, described him as "unpredictable," and said "you never knew which way he would blow."
The house on 2200 West in Roy is up for sale and his realtor said Nathan and Stephanie Sloop moved sometime before the house was put up for sale in March because they were seeking a new job in Denver.
In 2001, he was convicted of disorderly conduct and criminal mischief, and in a separate case a few months later, he was convicted again of disorderly conduct and failure to obey a peace officer, according to court records.
Police believe that after Ethan was killed, his body was driven to a remote area about 11 miles up Ogden Canyon, past Pineview Reservoir, about 200 yards off the main canyon road in a heavily wooded area close to a dirt access road owned by Powder Mountain Ski Resort.
During initial interviews, police noted inconsistencies in the parents' stories and information gathered from further interviews with both parents led police to search the site near Powder Mountain, according to a police report. The interviews also revealed indications of physical abuse, the report states.