Skip to main content

Watch: Kelsie Thomas Murder Retrial in Daughter’s Death


Update: Court is adjourned until Tuesday, October 20, when the defense will put up their case.

Our original article is below.


Opening statements in the murder retrial of Iowa woman Kelsie Thomas, 24, are scheduled to begin Tuesday, October 13 at 10 a.m. ET.

Did she kill her daughter Cloe Chandler, 5? Prosecutors said at the first trial that she strangled the victim with pajama pants on July 19, 2018, and she tried to pass it off as an accidental self-hanging. According to the state, this was a culmination of an increasingly distant relationship. Thomas gave birth to her daughter at age 16. In opening statements, prosecutors Reuben Neff said that Cloe began to show a similar attitude as her father, who had cheated on the defendant. Soon, a new child arrived in Thomas’s life, but this one was from another man, her husband.

According to Neff, Thomas eventually confessed the crime to law enforcement and her husband.

At trial, defense lawyer Allen Cook worked to undermine the confession and suggested it was false. Not only that, but the defense argued that the confession played into the medical examiner determining Cloe died from strangulation. It wasn’t murder, according to this account. An independent forensic pathologist testified that the child’s death was consistent with a hanging. The defense made a notable concession, however: Thomas could not explain how she got her daughter down from hanging.

Nonetheless, the first trial ended to the overall advantage of the defense. Though the jury was hung on the count of first-degree murder, they acquitted the defendant for child endangerment.

The prosecution must once again attempt to show Thomas’s guilt, but this time, it will not be before a jury of the defendant’s peers. Instead, this a bench trial. District 8A Judge Lucy Gamon will decide the verdict.

[Image via Wapello County Jail]

Have a tip we should know? [email protected]

Filed Under:

Follow Law&Crime: