Traverse City Record-Eagle


September 4, 2013

Charges loom for Benzie woman in murder-suicide attempt


Her husband Matt — principal at Frankfort High School and the school's athletic director and varsity football coach — spoke with a Record-Eagle editor Wednesday evening and declined comment.


Mother, daughter found unconscious

Benzie County Prosecutor Sara Swanson would not confirm Stapleton as the suspect nor her daughter as the victim, but said she authorized a felony attempted murder charge. The mother is expected to be arraigned yet this week in 85th District Court.

Swanson said family members reported the woman, 45, and her daughter missing on Tuesday. An extensive search conducted by sheriff's deputies and Michigan State Police eventually located them in a parked, full-size van on Tuesday about 6:30 p.m. in a remote area in Blaine Township.

State police Lt. Kip Belcher said two portable charcoal grills were burning inside the vehicle and the woman and child were unconscious when authorities came upon it. He said the van's windows were shut and investigators believe the woman tried to kill herself and her daughter.

"I'm not aware of any information that she was bound or restrained," Belcher said of the girl.

Assistant Prosecutor Jennifer Tang-Anderson said authorities don't believe the incident was an accident.

The mother and daughter both suffered from carbon monoxide poisoning and were transported to Munson Medical Center before being transferred to a Grand Rapids-area hospital.

Belcher said the woman is expected to fully recover, but the girl may have suffered permanent brain damage. He said doctors should have a better grasp of the teen's condition today.

"Hopefully, we'll get some good news," he said.


A 'tragedy'

The incident sent shock waves through the tight-knit Frankfort and Elberta communities.

Reggie Manville, who sits on the Elberta Village Council and coaches varsity basketball at Frankfort High School with Matt Stapleton, said the community was well aware of the family's financial struggles and raised funds to pay for Issy's expensive therapy. He said their thoughts were with the Stapleton family.

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