Police allege in court documents that a couple in northern Iowa held their newborn daughter underwater until she drowned because they were afraid the infant would be taken away if authorities discovered she “had methamphetamine in her system.”
Brandon Thoma, 31, and Taylor Blaha, 24, have been charged with first-degree murder in the death of Kayleen Lee Blaha, the remains of whom have yet to be discovered. Thoma, who allegedly hid the body in the woods, is also charged with corpse abuse.
A Iowa Department of Human Services caseworker’s tip on Nov. 22 led police to Blaha, who had gone to a hospital and reported that she gave birth at home and that the baby’s body had been buried somewhere unknown, according to an arrest affidavit.
It said that Blaha then told a detective that she discovered her pregnancy in April, and that both she and Thoma tried and failed to cause a miscarriage.
On Nov. 16, Blaha gave birth in her bathroom. According to the affidavit, she told the detective that they intended to have her sister adopt the child, who “was born alive, crying, moving its arms and legs, and opening her eyes, allowing Blaha to see that Kayleen had brown eyes.”
At one point, Blaha reportedly told the detective, Thoma gave her “methamphetamine to help her ease the pains associated with the birth.” The affidavit did not make clear whether she allegedly ingested the drug before or after the birth, but Thoma told police they feared methamphetamine would be discovered in Kayleen’s system.
According to the affidavit, Kayleen’s wailing made Blaha and Thoma “nervous” that neighbors would call the police. “The two placed Kayleen in the bathtub, which was about half full of water, and placed both of their hands on the baby’s chest, forcing her underwater, ultimately killing her,” according to the report.
Thoma wrapped the body in trash bags and “at least one towel,” then stuffed it into a black backpack and carried it out of the apartment, returning later with an empty backpack, according to Blaha.
They kept the cord
The couple told police that they kept a piece of Kayleen’s umbilical cord “to remember the baby,” and that a search of their apartment the next day turned up “an object consistent with an umbilical cord or remains of a human placenta” inside a dresser drawer.
An extensive excavation of the site where Thoma claimed he buried Kayleen, as well as a nearby landfill, yielded no results.
Fort Dodge Police Captain Dennis Quinn said Thursday that investigators searching for Kayleen’s body hadn’t had “a good night’s rest” in more than two weeks, according to KCCI. “It is important for us to do everything we can to try to locate the infant,” he said.
Blaha and Thoma are being held as collateral for a $1 million bond. Thoma’s lawyer told the Associated Press that he intends to enter a not guilty plea, while Blaha has yet to be assigned an attorney.