Missouri mother jailed after 1-year-old boy found dead

Wednesday, November 16, 2011 | 7:51 a.m. CST; updated 12:13 p.m. CST, Wednesday, November 16, 2011

AFFTON — Police investigating the death of a 13-month-old boy have taken the baby's mother into custody a day after his body was discovered near a suburban St. Louis cemetery.

No charges have been filed against 20-year-old Shelby Dasher of Affton who was taken into custody about 2:30 a.m. Wednesday, said Antoinette King, booking clerk for the St. Louis County jail.

King said Dasher was in custody on a 24-hour hold. The hold is designed to give the police a day to build a case. If no charges are brought in that time, Dasher must be released.

Tyler was reported missing from his home in the St. Louis suburb of Affton around 11 a.m. Tuesday. Shelby Dasher told police that she overslept that morning and discovered him gone from his crib when she awoke.

People walking a dog discovered Tyler's body a few hours later near the St. Marcus Cemetery, about a mile from the home where Tyler lived with his mother and grandmother, St. Louis County Police Chief Tim Fitch said.

The medical examiner did not immediately determine the cause of death. Fitch declined to discuss the condition of the body at a news conference Tuesday.

Police say no further information will be released until the prosecutor has reviewed the investigation. Prosecutor Bob McCulloch didn't immediately return calls seeking comment.

Police considered the case an "abduction or apparent homicide" but have no idea of a motive, county police spokesman Rick Eckhard said in a written statement. Eckhard said he could not discuss further details of the investigation.

Fitch said Tyler's mother and father, who live separately, were both cooperating with police.

Detectives and uniformed officers moved in and out of the family's small frame home in the working class neighborhood of Affton on Wednesday. Yellow police tape surrounded the home.

A long, wide area near the cemetery was also cordoned off with yellow police tape. Police dogs sniffed the ground while officers placed barricades around the area where the small body was found. A cluster of young adults cried and hugged as they watched from the cemetery. It wasn't clear if they were relatives of Tyler, and they declined interview requests.

The body was within about 100 feet of a busy road.

"It says to me it's a pretty sick person," Fitch said. "Anybody that would take a child and leave a child in a wooded area in that condition needs to be dealt with severely by the criminal justice system."

Earlier Wednesday police also brought a handcuffed person to both the scene where the body was found and back to the house. Police placed a sweat shirt over that person's head to conceal his or her identity.

Neighbors described the neighborhood where the Dashers live as quiet, the people close. But several said they knew little about Shelby Dasher or her son because they rented the home where they lived and had only been there a little more than a year.

"Everybody here kind of knows each other, but not them," said Rick Angeles, 28, who lives across the street with his wife and 3-year-old son. Angeles said a lot of young people were in and out of the Dasher home frequently, but he never saw anything that concerned him.

Tim Adair was visiting his sister's home three houses down from the Dashers. He said Tyler's grandmother came over Tuesday, distraught, and told them the boy was missing. She said she had no idea where he could be.

"My niece gave her a hug and talked with her and prayed with her," Adair said. "I can't imagine how difficult this would be."

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