Shelby Dasher was arraigned in St. Louis County on Thursday on the second-degree murder charge in connection with the death of her 1-year-old son Tyler Dasher whose body was found in a wooded area near his home. A judge entered a not guilty plea on her behalf and assigned the public defenders office to her case.
Shelby Dasher, 20, didn't have legal representation at her first appearance and is schedule to return to court Jan. 5, according to reports.
Shelby Dasher is being held at a St. Louis County facility on suicide watch, authorities have told the media. She is being held on a $500,000 cash bond.
Blunt Force Trauma
St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch have said a medical examiner said the toddler's cause of death resulted from multiple blunt force trauma. No evidence of prior abuse was found on Tyler Dasher's body.
Shelby Dasher has reportedly admitted to repeatedly striking her 13-month-old boy son because she was frustrated that she couldn't get him to stop crying and go back to sleep. McCulloch also said Tyler Dasher's mother admitted to hiding his body in a wooded area then going home.
Shelby Dasher isn't being charged with first-degree murder because evidence suggests there was not premeditation, McCulloch said. He added that the difference between a first-degree murder charge and a second-degree murder charge is whether it was cold-blooded or hot-blooded.
Tyler Dasher was reported missing around 11 a.m. on Tuesday. He was reported last seen on Monday evening before 10 p.m. when Shelby Dasher put him to bed. At about 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, people walking found the toddler's body in a wooded area near River Des Peres Road and Gravois. The site where Tyler Dasher's body was found is approximately one mile from the his home.
Authorities have told the media that the toddler's grandmother lived in the house with him and Shelby and was home at the time, but not aware something wrong had happened. McCulloch has confirmed that the grandmother left the home around 7:30 a.m. to go to work.
St. Louis County Police Chief Col. Tim Fitch told KSDK.com that Shelby Dasher was out the night before the crime. Investigators don't suspect anyone else was involved in Tyler Dasher's killing.
NewsChannel 5 has reported that court documents show that the parents of Tyler Dasher's father, Joseph Ellington, has taken measures to get legal guardianship over Joseph because they were concerned about his state of mind.
According to that report, in March 2011 court proceeding, a psychiatrist said Ellington suffered from paranoid delusions and he was diagnosed as disabled and incompetent, but that he refused treatment.
Shelby Dasher also filed for a protection order against her son's father last October and requested a dismissal of the order on Nov. 22 that same year and it was granted.
Not a Normal missing Child's Case
St. Louis County Lt. Gary Guinn told STLToday.com that he knew he wasn't dealing with a normal missing child case within 10 minutes of arriving at Shelby Dasher's home on Tuesday. He said the grandmother, Christine Dasher, was hysterical but that Shelby Dasher was calm -- a reaction not expected from a woman who had just reported that her 1-year-old son missing.
I've been doing this for so long, you just get the feel for what you're dealing with when you have that initial contact with people, Guinn, a 37-year police veteran told the paper. And on this one, I didn't get a good feel for the mother. ... The story she initially gave us was just bizarre, and her behavior was even worse. When you put those two things together, within 10 minutes we knew.
Fitch told that paper that Guinn also predicted Shelby Dasher would confess to the crime.