Police say Iowa couple drowned newborn in apartment bathtub

Dec 8, 2022, 1:48 PM | Updated: 1:53 pm

This undated photo provided by Webster County Jail in Iowa shows Brandon D. Thoma. Authorities said a northern Iowa couple drowned their newborn in a bathtub shortly after she was born, fearing her cries would draw the attention of police. Thoma and Taylor K. Blaha were charged Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2022, in the presumed death of the infant. (Webster County Jail via AP)

(Webster County Jail via AP)

Authorities said a northern Iowa couple drowned their newborn in a bathtub shortly after she was born, fearing her cries would draw the attention of police. They’re charged with first-degree murder, even though the baby’s remains have not been found in weeks of searching.

Brandon D. Thoma, 31, and Taylor K. Blaha, 24, both of Fort Dodge, were charged Wednesday in the presumed death of the infant, and Thoma also was charged with a felony count of abusing a corpse, court documents show.

In an arrest affidavit, Webster County Sheriff’s Detective Amy Stringer said police received a call on Nov. 22 from a caseworker who said Blaha had shown up at a Fort Dodge hospital saying she had given birth days earlier at the apartment she shared with Thoma, the father of the baby and of Blaha’s 2-year-old child.

In a subsequent interview with Stringer, Blaha said she had discovered in April that she was pregnant, and that she gave birth on Nov. 16 in the apartment bathroom after Thoma gave her methamphetamine to deal with the pain, the affidavit said.

Blaha confirmed that the baby was born alive, Stringer said, and was crying, moving her arms and legs, and opening her eyes. Blaha said she and Thoma agreed to name the baby Kayleen Lee.

Blaha said they planned to give the baby to Blaha’s sister to adopt, but grew fearful her cries would draw the attention of neighbors and police, so they held the baby underwater in the bathtub until she drowned. Thoma then placed the baby’s body in a plastic storage container, wrapped the container in trash bags and carried it out of the apartment in a backpack, the affidavit said.

“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,” Stringer wrote in the affidavit.

A search of the apartment turned up what appeared to be a piece of umbilical cord or placental remains in a dresser drawer.

Stringer said she also questioned Thoma, who admitted to drowning the baby, saying he feared police would discover meth in her system and take their 2-year-old child from them.

The affidavit said text messages between Blaha and Thoma indicate he dumped the baby’s body in a wooded area, but a search there turned up nothing. Thoma also led police to an area where he said he had buried the baby, but extensive excavation also turned up nothing. Police have also searched an area landfill, but have been unable to find the remains.

Cellphones and other devices belonging to the couple showed searches for how to force a miscarriage, police said, and Blaha told the detective that she and Thoma tried unsuccessfully to cause a miscarriage, the affidavit said.

The Mason City Public Defender’s office has been appointed to represent Blaha, but said Thursday that an attorney had not yet been assigned. Story County Public Defender Paul Rounds, representing Thoma, declined to comment except to say that Thoma will plead not guilty.

Both were ordered held Thursday on bonds of $1 million, with preliminary hearings set for Dec. 15.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


              This undated photo provided by Webster County Jail in Iowa shows Taylor K. Blaha. Authorities said a northern Iowa couple drowned their newborn in a bathtub shortly after she was born, fearing her cries would draw the attention of police. Blaha and Brandon D. Thoma were charged Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2022, in the presumed death of the infant. (Webster County Jail via AP)
            
              This undated photo provided by Webster County Jail in Iowa shows Brandon D. Thoma. Authorities said a northern Iowa couple drowned their newborn in a bathtub shortly after she was born, fearing her cries would draw the attention of police. Thoma and Taylor K. Blaha were charged Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2022, in the presumed death of the infant. (Webster County Jail via AP)
            
              This undated photo provided by Webster County Jail in Iowa shows Taylor K. Blaha. Authorities said a northern Iowa couple drowned their newborn in a bathtub shortly after she was born, fearing her cries would draw the attention of police. Blaha and Brandon D. Thoma were charged Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2022, in the presumed death of the infant. (Webster County Jail via AP)
            
              This undated photo provided by Webster County Jail in Iowa shows Brandon D. Thoma. Authorities said a northern Iowa couple drowned their newborn in a bathtub shortly after she was born, fearing her cries would draw the attention of police. Thoma and Taylor K. Blaha were charged Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2022, in the presumed death of the infant. (Webster County Jail via AP)

AP

This grab from video released by Adani Enterprises Ltd. on Thursday, Feb.2, 2023 shows Indian billi...
Associated Press

Indian tycoon Adani hit by more losses, calls for probe

NEW DELHI (AP) — Losses for the troubled Adani Group, India’s second-largest conglomerate, deepened on Friday as shares in its flagship company tumbled another 25%, extending over a week of declines that have wiped out tens of billions of dollars in market value. The debacle, which led Adani Enterprises, the group’s flagship company, to cancel […]
3 hours ago
A person wearing a protective mask walks in front of an electronic stock board showing Japan's Nikk...
Associated Press

Global shares trade mixed ahead of US jobs report

TOKYO (AP) — Global shares were trading mixed Friday ahead of a closely watched U.S. jobs report that may affect global interest rates. France’s CAC 40 lost 0.7% in early trading to 7,116.31, while Germany’s DAX dipped 0.9% to 15,362.64. Britain’s FTSE 100 added 0.2% to 7,832.20. U.S. shares were set to drift lower with […]
1 day ago
FILE - Travelers wearing face masks with their luggage head to the immigration counter at the depar...
Associated Press

China, Hong Kong scrap cross-border travel quota, COVID test

HONG KONG (AP) — Travel between Hong Kong and China will no longer require COVID-19 PCR tests nor be held to a daily limit, authorities announced Friday, as both places seek to drive economic growth. Hong Kong’s tourism industry has suffered since 2019 after months of political strife that at times turned into violent clashes […]
1 day ago
Peter Ellingwood delivers heating oil, Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023, in Farmington, Maine. On Friday, the...
Associated Press

January may have delivered lower, if still solid, job growth

WASHINGTON (AP) — The American economy has an unusual problem: The job market looks too strong — at least to the inflation fighters at the Federal Reserve. Companies are still seeking more workers and are hanging tightly onto the ones they have. Putting aside some high-profile layoffs at big tech companies like Microsoft, Google, Amazon […]
1 day ago
FILE - Attendees walk past a booth advertising 5G telecommunications services at the PT Expo in Bei...
Associated Press

Chill pervades China’s tech firms even as crackdown eases

HONG KONG (AP) — A grinding crackdown that wiped billions of dollars of value off Chinese technology companies is easing, but the once-freewheeling industry is bracing for much slower growth ahead. Analysts say China’s easing of restrictions on companies like e-commerce giant Alibaba and online games company Tencent and talk of support for the private […]
1 day ago
Australia's Nick Kyrgios, left, and Serbia's Novak Djokovic shake hands following an exhibition mat...
Associated Press

Kyrgios pleads guilty to assault, has no conviction recorded

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Nick Kyrgios had suffered severe depression, suicidal ideation and insomnia in the past, a psychologist told a court on Friday when the Australian tennis star pleaded guilty to pushing a former girlfriend to the ground two years ago. The 2022 Wimbledon runner-up pleaded guilty in the Australian Capital Territory Magistrates Court […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Prep the plumbing in your home just in time for the holidays

With the holidays approaching, it's important to know when your home is in need of heating and plumbing updates before more guests start to come around.
(Desert Institute for Spine Care photo)...
DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Why DISC is world renowned for back and neck pain treatments

Fifty percent of Americans and 90% of people at least 50 years old have some level of degenerative disc disease.
(Photo via MLB's Arizona Fall League / Twitter)...
Arizona Fall League

Top prospects to watch at this year’s Arizona Fall League

One of the most exciting elements of the MLB offseason is the Arizona Fall League, which began its 30th season Monday.
Police say Iowa couple drowned newborn in apartment bathtub