A 24-year-old woman has been charged with involuntary manslaughter in the death of her 2-year-old son, LeRoy J. Toppins, who went missing from his Staunton-Sugar Grove Road home the evening of April 3 and was found dead a day later in a nearby pond.
Anna E. Karber was recently indicted by a Fayette County grand jury on a third-degree felony involuntary manslaughter charge and first-degree misdemeanor endangering children. “We presented the evidence to the grand jury and this is what they returned,” said Fayette County Prosecutor Jess Weade. “With this still pending, I don’t want to make any other comment than that at this time.”
Results from LeRoy’s autopsy confirmed that drowning was the cause of his death and that there were no signs of foul play, according to the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office. The autopsy results and the investigative findings of the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office were submitted to the prosecutor’s office for review before it went to the grand jury.
The indictment states that Karber “did cause the death of (the child) as a proximate result of the defendant’s committing or attempting to commit a misdemeanor of any degree….” The child endangering misdemeanor charge states that Karber “created a substantial risk to the health or safety” of the child.
Involuntary manslaughter usually refers to an unintentional killing that results from recklessness or criminal negligence.
Karber is scheduled to be arraigned in Fayette County Common Pleas Court on Sept. 14. A trial date will most likely be set at that time. She was served with her indictment on Monday and has since posted bond.
According to Weade, evidence concerning LeRoy’s father, Dustin Toppins, was also presented to the grand jury, but no indictment was returned.
When LeRoy went missing on April 3 from his home, it prompted a search that included hundreds of volunteers before he was found dead the next day in a pond adjacent to the stone quarry on Staunton-Sugar Grove Road. “We believe the child wandered away, got too close to the water and fell in,” Fayette County Sheriff Vernon Stanforth said on April 4.
The pond, which is located approximately 400 feet from the Toppins’s home, was about three feet deep at the time of the drowning. LeRoy’s body was found at around 6:40 p.m. April 4 on the bottom of the pond about three feet out from the shore.
Several hundred people searched for the child beginning the night of April 3 when he was reported missing by his parents – Karber and Dustin Toppins, at around 6 p.m. According to Stanforth’s interview on April 4, the parents said LeRoy was playing outside near their house with siblings when he disappeared. Both parents were reportedly in close proximity to the child when he went missing.
On Tuesday, Stanforth explained his office’s investigative process. “We dealt with this investigation like we do every investigation, we are fact finders,” he said. “We submit the evidence to the prosecutor for review and he then decides if it goes to a grand jury to let a panel of independent citizens decide if any charges should be brought forth. In this case, the grand jury felt that charges against the mother were warranted.”
Stanforth said this investigation consisted of multiple interviews, crime scene forensics and measurements, and the coroner’s report.
Reach Ryan Carter at 740-313-0352 or on Twitter @rywica
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