A 31-year-old man and a 24-year-old woman in Iowa are behind bars this week for allegedly drowning their baby in a bathtub just moments after the child’s birth.
Brandon D. Thoma and Taylor K. Blaha were taken into custody on Wednesday and charged with one count each of first-degree murder in the death of young Kayleen Lee Blaha, authorities announced.
According to a sworn affidavit of probable cause obtained by Law&Crime, Blaha on Nov. 22 went to Unity Point Trinity Regional Medical Center where she met with an employee at the Iowa Department of Human Services (IDHS). Blaha allegedly said that she “gave birth to a baby at her residence and that it had been buried at an undisclosed location.”
The IDHS employee contacted the Webster County Law Enforcement Center and a detective with the sheriff’s office responded to the scene.
In an interview with the detective, Blaha reportedly told the detective that she found out she was pregnant with Thoma’s child in April 2022. The two already have a 2-year-old son together.
She allegedly said that she gave birth to a baby girl in the bathroom of their apartment located in the 900 block of Central Avenue in Fort Dodge on Nov. 16.
“She stated that Thoma was in the bedroom of the apartment when she gave birth but that once the baby was born, he came into the bathroom and helped her get from where she was sitting on the toilet to a position sitting inside the bathtub with the baby,” the affidavit states. “She advises the two named the baby Kayleen Lee Blaha and that she was born alive, crying, moving its arms and legs, and opening her eyes allowing Blaha to see that Kayleen had brown eyes.”
Blaha allegedly said she asked Thoma for methamphetamine to help assuage the pain from giving birth and he provided her with the drugs. She told the detective that they had “no intentions” of keeping the child and were planning to let Blaha’s sister adopt the girl. She added that Thoma severed the umbilical cord with a pair of scissors and cut “sections of the cord to be kept to remember the baby.”
Blaha allegedly said, however, that she and Thoma soon became nervous their neighbors would hear Kayleen crying and alert law enforcement. They were scared that if law enforcement came to the home and found methamphetamine in the baby’s system they would lose custody of their 2-year-old son.
“Blaha went on to explain that in order to stop the crying 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,” the affidavit states. “Blaha also explained that Thoma demonstrated to her how to do this. Blaha advised that once the baby was held under water, Thoma removed the baby from the bathtub and sat her outside of the tub before ultimately placing her in a plastic storage container, wrapping her in multiple layers of trash bags, and then placing her inside of a black backpack that he carried her out of the apartment in.”
While Kayleen’s body was never recovered, investigators executed a search warrant on their apartment and recovered what appeared to be the portion of umbilical cord that Thoma had as a keepsake.
Police have offered a reward of $1,500 for information leading to the recovery of the child’s remains.
Both parents are currently being held in pretrial detention. Thoma’s bond was set at $1,050,000 while Blaha’d bond was set at $1 million.
[Images via Webster County Sheriff’s Office]
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