FORT DODGE, Iowa (TCD) — A 24-year-old woman was sentenced to 50 years in prison after she pleaded guilty to killing her newborn daughter by drowning her in a bathtub not long after she was born.
Court records show Taylor Blaha entered a guilty plea for second-degree murder on Friday, Aug. 18. She was originally charged with first-degree murder in November. A judge subsequently sentenced her to five decades behind bars, but KCRG-TV reports Blaha will be eligible for parole after 35 years.
Blaha’s boyfriend, Brandon Thoma, pleaded guilty in July to abuse of a corpse and child endangerment resulting in death.
On Nov. 22, 2022, the Webster County Sheriff’s Office received a call from an official with the Iowa Department of Human Services who said she met Blaha at a local hospital. Blaha told her she gave birth at home and buried the child “at an undisclosed location.”
According to the criminal complaint, Blaha told a Webster County detective she found out she was pregnant in April 2022 and gave birth Nov. 16. Blaha had the child in her bathroom while Thoma waited in the bedroom. Once the child was born, he went 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 child, who they named Kayleen Lee Blaha, was born alive, “crying, moving its arms and legs, and opening her eyes allowing Blaha to see that Kayleen had brown eyes.”
Blaha asked Thoma to give her meth “to help her ease the pain associated with the birth.”
Blaha reportedly told the detective she and Thoma were going to let her sister adopt Kayleen, but then the newborn started crying, and Blaha became worried neighbors would hear. Thoma and Blaha “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.”
Afterwards, Thoma put her in a plastic container, wrapped it in trash bags, and put the body in a black backpack. The criminal complaint says they became “concerned if law enforcement became involved that authorities would learn the baby had methamphetamine in her system and that their 2-year-old child would be removed from their care as a result.”
Thoma left the apartment early Nov. 17 with Kayleen’s body in his backpack and “returned later with an empty backpack.”
Thoma told law enforcement officials in December he buried Kayleen near a bridge, but she was not found after multiple searches. Then, he said he dumped her body near a landfill. Investigators conducted a “full excavation” of the area, but once again, did not find her body.
Officials are still working to find the little girl’s remains.
Thoma is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 1.
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