Murder Charges Against Orange City Day Care Provider

(ORANGE CITY, IA) New and more serious charges have been filed against an orange city, Iowa Day Care provider.

33-year-old Rochelle Sapp has now been charged with 1st degree murder and child endangerment resulting in the death of 3-year-old Autumn Elgersma.

Until early Thursday morning Sapp was a free woman. She originally been charged with willful injury and child endangerment causing serious injury. She was arrested, made bond and then those charges were dropped which led some to believe more serious charges were coming. Sure enough they did.

This is where it all happened October 29th, 33-year-old Rochelle Sapp was watching 3-year-old Autumn Elgersma at her in-home day care center.

According to newly released court documents, Sapp called Autumn's mother around 9 o'clock that morning to tell her Autumn had fallen down the stairs. She said she would keep a close eye on Autumn and give her some Tylenol. Not even 20 minutes later, Sapp called autumns mother again to tell her Autumn was quote "Way out of it" and that she thought her neck was hurt. Autumns mother rushed to Sapp's house.

Autumn was taken to the Orange City Hospital but because her injuries were so bad, she was airlifted to a hospital in Sioux Falls. Doctors there diagnosed her with a skull fracture and brain swelling. She died of her injuries October 31st.

Sapp's initial claim that Autumn fell down the stairs didn't match up with a medical opinion that the little girls injuries were not consistent with that kind of fall. Sapp later told police she had threw the girl down hard on the floor, causing Autumn to hit her head because she was frustrated with Autumn who was having trouble getting her jacket off.

Until now, police were unable to charge her with Murder, simply because they needed the autopsy results. Those results were announced Thursday. The Medical Examiner ruled her death as a homicide.

"The death of a child is a serious matter of course and in any investigation involving a child death or any suspicious death it's important that the investigation be careful, thorough, complete and comprehensive. In this case the initial charges were based on evidence and opinion available to the state at that time. Upon Autumns death the circumstances changed," said Coleman J. McAlister, Sioux County Attorney.

Sapp was picked up Thursday morning at her in-home day care facility by Orange City police officials. She's being held at the Sioux county jail with a $250,000 bond."

Sapp is expected to appear in court within the next 24 hours.

During the press conference, officials say Sapp was not taking care of any other kids after the death of Autumn. Stay with Siouxland News for Updates as they become available.