Parents charged with murder allegedly held baby underwater to stop crying

Documents filed in court are giving us a clearer picture of what might have happened to a missing Fort Dodge newborn.
Published: Dec. 11, 2022 at 6:17 AM EST
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FORT DODGE, Iowa (KCRG) - The parents of a reportedly unwanted baby in Iowa are facing charges of first-degree murder in relation to the child’s death last month.

Fort Dodge Police have been searching for the baby’s body since late November but have been unsuccessful.

Court documents say the mother, 24-year-old Taylor Blaha, and the father, 31-year-old Brandon Thoma, both of Fort Dodge, did not want the child and planned to allow Blaha’s sister to adopt her.

The Webster County Sheriff’s Office said Blaha gave birth to the child, who they named Kayleen Lee Blaha, in the bathroom of their Fort Dodge apartment on November 16. Officials said the baby was born alive, crying, moving her arms and legs and opening her eyes, KCRG reports.

Investigators said Blaha used methamphetamine during the birth to help ease her pain, but they became worried their neighbors would hear the baby’s crying and call police. Investigators said the couple worried police would find meth in the baby’s system, and they would lose custody of their 2-year-old child.

The court documents say, in order to stop the baby from crying, they held her underwater in the bathtub, killing her. They then wrapped the dead baby in multiple layers of trash bags and put her in a black backpack, according to officials.

Investigators said they used multiple surveillance video systems around the city, including those from private individuals and businesses, to track Thoma leaving the apartment early the following morning with a backpack containing a rectangular shape. He is reportedly seen returning to the apartment 20 minutes later with an empty backpack.

Law enforcement said text messages between Blaha and Thoma revealed that Thoma had discarded Kayleen’s body in a wooded area near the Kenyon Road Bridge. However, law enforcement have not been able to locate the baby’s remains there despite multiple attempts, including a full excavation of the area.

When shown the photographs of himself leaving the apartment, officials said Thoma admitted the baby’s body was in the backpack.

Investigators seized cell phones from the couple, both of which contained searches for information on how to force a miscarriage. Blaha reportedly confirmed later in an interview with investigators that they had attempted to cause a miscarriage, but those actions were unsuccessful.

The court documents say the couple kept a portion of the umbilical cord to remember the baby by. It was later found by investigators during execution of a search warrant.

Law enforcement plan to continue to search for the baby’s remains and will follow up on tips.