Traverse City Record-Eagle

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September 4, 2013

Charges loom for Benzie woman in murder-suicide attempt

TRAVERSE CITY — A Benzie County woman who for years desperately battled insurance companies and bureaucrats to secure help for her acutely autistic, physically abusive daughter could face charges of trying to kill the girl in a failed murder-suicide attempt.

Kelli Stapleton, who penned a blog, “The Status Woe”, to chronicle her experiences with daughter Issy Stapleton, 14, remained hospitalized in Grand Rapids late Wednesday after she allegedly tried to kill herself and Issy on Tuesday in Elberta, near Frankfort.

Benzie authorities said they expected to charge a woman with attempted murder. Police found and rescued Kelli and Issy from a van. Both already were unconscious from carbon monoxide poisoning.

Kelli Stapleton and her husband Matt — community leaders in the Lake Michigan shoreline communities of Elberta and Frankfort — shared their harrowing story of life with Issy, an intelligent but abusive autistic child, in a February story in the Record-Eagle.

Issy often attacked her mother and a sibling, and her parents continually ran into roadblocks with insurance companies, treatment facilities and various government agencies in a quest for help that devastated them emotionally and financially.

“She is a great kid with a lot of potential,” Kelli told the Record-Eagle in February. “She’s so smart. She started reading when she was two. She’s got so much to offer, but her aggression is going to limit her life as much as anything.”

Kelli Stapleton rallied neighbors and strangers alike through her blog, an online journal laden with family stories of challenge and heartbreak. Issy's attacks twice sent Kelli to hospital emergency rooms, and Kelli voiced fear for Issy's siblings, particularly a sister.

“I felt like I needed witnesses," she told the Record-Eagle. “If I didn’t survive this situation, I wanted people to know that I was a good mom and I did everything I could do, and I asked for help from all these resources. … I’m grateful people read it and wanted to help.”

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