A month before his girlfriend’s 5-year-old son with autism was killed, investigators allege an Indiana man conducted internet searches on his phone for “kill my mentally retarded step-son,” “torture techniques,” and “painful ways to die,” PEOPLE confirms.
A probable cause affidavit obtained by PEOPLE alleges 31-year-old Steven Ingalls, Jr. was responsible for the 2016 asphyxiation and intentional overdose death of Brayson Price, the child of Meghan Price, his girlfriend of more than two years.
Price, 29, and Ingalls lived in the same home with Brayson in Monrovia, and also have a young son together, states the affidavit.
Price and Ingalls are both charged with neglect and conspiracy to commit murder. Both have pleaded not guilty.
Ingalls’ trial is due to begin this summer. A date for Price’s trial has not been set.
According to the probable cause affidavit, Ingalls called 911 the morning of Nov. 23, 2016, to report an unresponsive child. Mooresville police responded, and Brayson was rushed to a local hospital.
Officers at the scene noted seeing “a large amount of blood in the bedroom” where the boy was found.
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The affidavit states investigators were allegedly granted access to the defendants’ phones, and found Ingalls’ search history as well as disturbing text messages the couple had exchanged.
Before Brayson’s death, Ingalls allegedly used his cell phone to search “kill my mentally retarded step-son,” “torture techniques,” “beat child with fragile X abuse,” “I want to kill my autistic child,” “painful ways to die,” and “most painful torture,” the affidavit alleges.
In the affidavit, detectives quote a text Ingalls sent to Price, in which he allegedly says she “needs to kill him while he is young so that she can have a life of her own and not be a caretaker for a retarded child.” Police allege Ingalls admitted to writing the text, but said “it was just talk.”
Other searches Ingalls allegedly conducted included “deadly diseases from rotten food,” “homicide by disease,” “human anatomy,” “tortured child,” “Indianapolis famous murders,” “why do I hate my disable child,” “autistic son shot,” “injuries that cause long term excruciating pain,” “hurtful jokes about autism,” “jokes about autistic kids,” “unbearable pain causes,” “what causes extreme pain,” and “why do I violently beat my autistic child.”
Speaking to reporters outside the courthouse, Morgan County Prosecutor Steven Sonnega alleged “Ingalls believed that he needed to take Brayson out of the picture for them to live happily [ever] after.”
Sonnega added: “Ingalls made a statement he wanted to buy a ticket to see Brayson take his last breath. There’s no free ticket when you kill a child, and the jury verdict should stamp his ticket as guilty. Children are a gift, but Brayson became an unwanted burden to the defendant.”
He also said that the couple believed Brayson did not feel pain because of his disability.
The defendants’ attorneys could not be reached for comment.