FORT DODGE, Iowa (WHO) – New details about the death of an Iowa newborn and the investigation that resulted in murder charges against her parents have been revealed in court documents. Brandon Thoma, 31, and Taylor Blaha, 24, are charged with first-degree murder in the death of their newborn daughter. Thoma is also charged with abuse of a corpse. Fort Dodge Police Department announced the arrests Wednesday.
According to an affidavit in the case, law enforcement received a call from an Iowa Department of Human Services employee on November 22 informing them that Blaha allegedly admitted to giving birth to a baby at her residence and the body had been buried at an undisclosed location. During a detective’s interview with Blaha, the affidavit claims she became aware in April that she was pregnant with Thoma’s child. The pair already share a 2-year-old son.
Blaha allegedly told the detective she gave birth to a baby girl on November 16, 2022, in the bathroom of the couple’s apartment. She said Thoma was in the bedroom while she gave birth, but once the child was born he went into the bathroom. The court document said the child was born alive and was crying and moving her arms and legs. Blaha told the detective she and Thoma named the child Kayleen Lee Blaha.
According to the affidavit, after the birth, Blaha asked for and was given methamphetamine by Thoma to help with the pain of birth. Blaha allegedly told the detective she and Thoma had no plans to keep the baby and were going to allow Blaha’s sister to adopt her. The crying of the baby caused the pair to worry their neighbors would hear and contact law enforcement. That’s when, according to the affidavit, they both placed the newborn in the half-filled bathtub and pushed her underwater by placing their hands on the baby’s chest, resulting in her death.
During a statement on December 7, the charging document said Thoma told police he and Blaha were afraid their 2-year-old son would be taken away if law enforcement got involved and learned the newborn baby had methamphetamine in her system. After the baby had died, Blaha told the detective Thoma removed the child’s body and placed it in a plastic storage container, wrapped her in multiple plastic bags, and then into a black backpack. Thoma said he left their apartment with the backpack and returned later.
Text messages between Blaha and Thoma showed Thoma initially disposed of the baby’s body in a wooded area near the Kenyon Road Bridge. A search of that area by law enforcement did not reveal the child’s remains. On December 5, the affidavit said Thoma told law enforcement he would take them to where he discarded the child’s body, a rural area north of the North Central Iowa Regional Landfill. A full excavation of the area was completed between December 5-6 but investigators still did not find the baby’s body.
Examination of Blaha and Thoma’s electronic devices showed they made searches about how to force a miscarriage. Blaha allegedly admitted to the detective that the two had tried to cause a miscarriage but attempts were unsuccessful. The affidavit also revealed the couple kept sections of the baby’s umbilical cord in order to remember the baby. A search warrant turned up “an object consistent with an umbilical cord or remains of a human placenta” located in the top drawer of a dresser at the couple’s apartment. Thoma and Blaha are being held in the Webster County Jail on cash-only bonds. Thoma’s is $1,050,000 and Blaha’s is $1,000,000. Both are expected to make their first jail court appearances the morning of Thursday, December 8.