Friend Speaks Out About Kelli Stapleton

While a mother sits in jail accused of trying to kill her daughter, friends of Kelli Stapleton are talking about what may have led up to the desperate act.

Friends say they still haven't grasped the idea of Kelli committing such a crime.

Police say on Tuesday, she lit two charcoal grills inside her van.

She's accused of locking the doors and windows with herself and her 14 year-old autistic daughter, Isabelle, inside that van in Blaine Township.

Kelli Stapleton chronicled her difficult journey to get help for her autistic daughter through a blog and social media.

She often wrote about her daughter's violent episodes and the strain it put on the family.

Now, many are standing behind Kelli.

“She's not hard to get to know quickly, she has a very friendly, funny personality and is very real,” Jen Mac explains of her friend of three years.

Friends of Kelli Stapleton say this is not the woman they know. Her world revolved around her daughter Issy, despite recent challenges.

“Certainly in the last 12 or 15 months, heard lots of outbursts that were very dangerous and put Kelli in the hospital,” Mac explains of those challenges.

Issy's autism made her extremely aggressive, and Jen Mac says Kelli would have gone to the edge of the earth to find treatment for her daughter.

“Isabelle needed some extra care, she needed some extra treatment that would help her with that behavior so she can function in the family, function in school, function in public.”

Issy finally received that extra treatment, returning from a facility in Kalamazoo just days ago.

According to a recent blog post by Kelli, she had hoped issy would return to Frankfort-Elberta schools.

Jen thinks a disagreement Kelli writes about over Issy's treatment plans, and the decision she wouldn't return to the school may have contributed to pushing Kelli over the edge.

“All this hard work, bruised knees, broken hands, broken hearts; only to have the last door slammed in her face,” Jen explains.

Jen says she doesn't agree with what Kelli did, but understands how she could have come to that moment of desperation.

“I think there's lessons to be learned.”

Jen's not alone, as many others have expressed their support, and prayers, for Kelli and Issy.

“All of us can come together and say what are some solutions, what can we do as a community, Kelli may be out of it temporarily, but we're still standing. Maybe we finish the fight for her, and we find the help for Issy that she needs.”

Issy Stapleton remains hospitalized in Grand Rapids.

Kelli Stapleton will face a judge again on September 16th in Benzie County.

9 & 10's Meredith Barack and photojournalist Jeff Blakeman look deeper into what may have led to Tuesday's attempted murder-suicide.