Brandon Thoma and Taylor Blaha initially were each charged with first-degree murder in connection with the death of the child, Kayleen Lee, Our Quad Cities reported. Thoma faces an additional charge of abuse of a corpse.
According to court documents obtained by Our Quad Cities, Blaha gave birth to Kayleen Lee at the couple’s apartment in Fort Dodge on Nov. 16, 2022, and the parents allegedly drowned the baby in a bathtub a short time later.
The court documents allege Blaha and Thoma had planned to give the child to a relative to adopt, but killed the baby because they feared the girl’s crying would draw neighbors’ attention and they would phone police. The couple, the legal papers state, didn’t want authorities to take their 2-year-old son from their custody if they found out the newborn had methamphetamine in her system.
An arrest affidavit states Thoma allegedly gave Blaha the drug to deal with the pain of the home delivery, WLS-TV reported.
“Thoma and Blaha have both confirmed ... that once Kayleen was born, Thoma cut the umbilical cord with a pair of scissors that was present within their apartment and shortly thereafter cut additional sections of the cord to be kept to remember the baby,” the affidavit states.
Thoma allegedly wrapped the baby in trash bags and put it in a black backpack. On Nov. 17, 2022, he reportedly left the apartment with the backpack and "returned later with an empty backpack," officials said.
Never miss a story — sign up for the Front Page Detectives newsletter. Be on the scene the moment news breaks.
Thoma told police he buried Kayleen near a bridge, but she was not found after multiple searches. Then, he said he dumped her body near a landfill. Investigators conducted a "full excavation" of the area, but once again, did not find her body.
Police still have not found the baby’s body. An investigation and the search for the body remains ongoing, officials said.
Thoma took a plea deal that knocked the murder charge down to child endangerment resulting in death and abuse of a corpse, authorities said. He is set to be sentenced on Sept. 1.
Become a Front Page Detective
Sign up to receive breaking
Front Page Detectives
news and exclusive investigations.