The chilling case of a Missouri infant that was found dead inside a tire is getting closer to being solved — after nearly 3 years.
The Columbia Police Department was called to McKnight Tire on August 15, 2019 when workers discovered there were human remains on the premises. When detectives arrived on the scene, they found a small backpack that had been stuffed inside of a tire. In this backpack lay the decomposed remains of a child whom they identified to be less than 1 year old. Immediately the remains were sent for an autopsy, but due to the decomposed state of the body, pathologists could not determine the cause of death, the sex, or even how long the child had been deceased. Just awful…
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Due to decomposition, the case of “Baby Doe” had very few leads. So in September 2020, a little over a year after the discovery and no success in identifying the remains, the police opted for a more specialized approach. Lt. Matt Stevens opted to seek out Othram — a modern alternative to conventional DNA testing. He said in a press release that they would be partnering with the genealogy testing facility to try and identify the victim:
“Traditional methods used by detectives to identify have been unsuccessful in this case, including submission of evidence to state labs. By using forensic genealogy testing, we believe the services provided by Othram to be a viable option in identifying the remains of the infant.”
It’s gut-wrenching that the child was in such a state that the police had to resort to these methods…
The case went cold for almost another whole year before a new lead popped up — and it was the last thing that investigators were expecting! An anonymous employee of a Super 8 motel found a letter earlier this month in a wallet which had been left in a hotel room. The letter was allegedly written by the mother of the child and addressed to the CPD. WTF?!
According to a probable cause letter obtained by the Columbia Missourian, the note tells the whole story:
28-year-old Lavosha Daniels came home from work, fed her daughter, and went to bed. She was awoken later in the night for unknown reasons, and that’s when she found the baby “in an unusual position with a towel wrapped around her neck and blood coming from her mouth”. She tried to “perform CPR,” but it was too late and the infant had died. She says she “fled” when she realized her child was dead because she “didn’t know what to do.” The mother’s romantic partner at the time, Staffone Fountain, was with the baby during the night while the mother was asleep — she says he was the one to put her daughter’s body in a backpack and hide it in a tire.
Not only did Daniels insinuate that Fountain was the cause of the infant’s death in her letter, she went as far as leaving his ID cards in the wallet where the letter was found AND saying he was the one to hide the body! Sounds like she was totally setting him up!
After this incriminating letter was given to police, they were able to team up with forensic analysts and confirm that the body was in fact Lavosha’s daughter Samone J. Daniels. They estimated that the baby girl was between 4 and 5 months old at the time of death and that she had possibly been decaying in the tire shop since 2017. So heartbreaking…how did someone not find her sooner — did the tire shop really not clean up for 2 years? Did the rubber and grease really cover up the smell?!
It’s also been reported that the mother had eight children — one of which was the victim’s twin brother that was given up for adoption after birth. So heartbreaking that Samone’s chance at life was taken away from her so early…
The two suspects mentioned in the letter were arrested Tuesday in relation to this case. They were each charged with abandonment of a corpse — along with that, Daniels was charged with first degree child endangerment and Fountain with first degree murder. They were denied bond and moved to Boone County Jail where they are currently residing. A court date has not yet been agreed upon.
Medical examiners are still unsure of the infant’s cause of death — and what actually happened to her. The investigation is still ongoing and the CPD are asking that anyone with information about this horrible crime to contact them at (573) 874-7652 or the anonymous CrimeStoppers tip line at (573) 875-8477.
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