Where is baby Kayleen? Fort Dodge police still don't know, allege her parents killed her

  • In US
  • 2022-12-09 15:05:32Z
  • By The Des Moines Register

The search in Fort Dodge continues for the body of Kayleen Lee Blaha, born Nov. 16, whom documents allege was murdered by her parents, wrapped in garbage bags and put into a backpack.

Police from several agencies took her Fort Dodge parents into custody Wednesday. Taylor K. Blaha, 24, Kayleen's mother, and Brandon D. Thoma, 31, the baby's father, are jailed with bail set at $1 million on the murder allegations. Thoma, who share an apartment with Blaha, also faces a felony charge of abusing of a corpse.

"We have not located the newborn, but that does not mean we won't continue to keep trying to," said Capt. Dennis Quinn of the Fort Dodge Police Department said on Wednesday.

The story outlined in police and court documents begins in April when Blaha told Thoma she was pregnant and he was the father, according to a sworn statement by Webster County sheriff's detective Amy Stringer.

The couple already had a two-year-old son together - one of at least three children, in addition to baby Kayleen, that Thoma fathered with different women, including Blaha, according to official documents.

Blaha told police they planned to allow a family member to adopt Kayleen as they had no intention of raising a second child together, according to charging documents. Court records also show that police found searches for how to induce a miscarriage when they seized the couple's cell phones.

After going into labor, Blaha later told officials, she asked Thoma to give her methamphetamine to "ease" the pain of giving birth, according to charging documents.

More:Fort Dodge parents arrested following the death of their newborn

Blaha told investigators that the couple became worried when baby Kayleen - who was born alive - began to cry, according to charging documents. They feared neighbors would call police and the presence of meth would cost them custody of their son.

Blaha told Stringer the couple didn't want their two year-old child taken away from them, so they placed baby Kayleen in a bathtub half full of water, according to documents.

Then, Blaha told authorities, Thoma demonstrated how to drown the baby by pushing down on her chest to force her underwater, documents said.

"Text messages between Blaha and Thoma confirm that Thoma initially discarded Kayleen's body in a wooded area near the Kenyon Road Bridge," the documents said.

Surveillance footage, obtained by Fort Dodge police, captured images of Thoma leaving the apartment with a backpack containing a large "rectangular object" and returning 20 minutes later with an apparently empty backpack, according to charging documents.

Thoma and Blaha later separately told police they had wrapped the baby in black garbage bags and stuffed her into that backpack, according to charging documents.

Previously:Police looking for body of deceased newborn in Fort Dodge

Emergency call to Webster County Telecommunications Center about a deceased infant

Then on the afternoon Nov. 22, Webster County Telecommunications Center dispatchers received a emergency call reporting that a woman given birth to a child who later died and that the body was moved to different location.

That initial call came from an Iowa Department of Health and Human Services social worker, who had in turn been contacted by Blaha that day, according to charging documents. The social worker had met with Blaha at Fort Dodge's Unity Point Trinity Regional Medical Center, although court records do not indicate whether Blaha was a patient.

At that point, police say they began a search using "all available resources and manpower" that would eventually range across the northcentral Iowa city of 24,000. On Nov. 28, police offered a $1,000 reward for information that led to the recovery of the infant's corpse.

As time went on, unsuccessful searches involving at least 13 local, state and federal law enforcement agencies were conducted. Much of that investigation focused on the area where Thoma had allegedly disposed of the body, according to police.

On Dec. 5, court documents say, Thoma told police he would lead them to his baby's discarded body in a rural area near the nearby North Central Iowa Regional Landfill. Over the next two days, investigators say they conducted a full excavation the area without finding baby Kayleen's remains.

More:Iowa daycare provider sentenced to up to 10 years in prison for dropping infant who died

On Wednesday, police obtained and served arrest warrants on the couple. In a search of the apartment, police reported finding an umbilical cord and the remains of a placenta in the top drawer of a dresser.

In announcing the arrest, Fort Dodge police increased the reward for locating baby Kayleen's body to $1,500.

Noelle Alviz-Gransee is a general assignment reporter at the Des Moines Register. Follow her on Twitter at @NoelleHannika or email her at NAlvizGransee@registermedia.com.

This article originally appeared on Des Moines Register: Baby Kayleen Blaha's body remains missing, parents face murder charges


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