Mother charged with murder of St. Louis County toddler

2011-11-16T15:45:00Z 2013-05-10T08:48:19Z Mother charged with murder of St. Louis County toddlerBY CHRISTINE BYERS • > 314-863-2821

UPDATED at 3:15 p.m. with murder charge.

CLAYTON • Shelby A. Dasher admitted beating her toddler to death in a rage at her Affton-area home, officials said this afternoon after filing a second-degree murder charge against her.

St. Louis County police were several hours into a search for Tyler Dasher, 13 months old, when passers-by found his body about 3:30 p.m. Tuesday near the edge of the wooded New St. Marcus Cemetery, just off River Des Peres Boulevard.

It is several blocks from the house in the 7700 block of Clevedon Street where Shelby Dasher lived with her son and her mother.

Dasher was ordered held in the St. Louis Justice Center in Clayton in lieu of $500,000 bail.

"At this point, there's no indication that we have that there's anyone else involved other than Miss Dasher," said Robert P. McCulloch, the prosecuting attorney, in a press conference about 3:20 p.m. today in the Justice Center.

He said the investigation continues but would not elaborate.

According to McCulloch, Dasher, 20, arrived home at about 2:30 a.m. Tuesday. Her mother left for work about 7:30 a.m. Tyler would not stop crying and Dasher beat him to death and disposed of the body. What happened after that is "a bit fuzzy," the prosecutor said.

Dasher called police about 11 a.m. to claim the child was missing.

Police and the FBI mounted a massive search while questioning the mother. They noted there was no forced entry.

Tyler's father, Joe Ellington, lives elsewhere in the St. Louis area.

McCulloch said the child died of blunt-force trauma. He said that "as far as we know" Dasher carried the body to the cemetery. He said officials are not aware of any prior acts of abuse.

McCulloch said second-degree murder represents a "hot-blooded murder" as opposed to first-degree, which would be a "cold-blooded murder" involving cool deliberation first.

St. Louis County Police Chief Tim Fitch said his officers worked tirelessly to close the case and reassure the community that "there was not some other person out there."

One of the first officers on the case was a lieutenant experienced in child abuse cases who realized "this was not just a missing child," he said.

Fitch said a report of a man seen carrying a child at about the time Tyler was reported missing Tuesday turned out not to be related to the murder.

"We're convinced that that has absolutely nothing to do with this case," Fitch said.

Dasher's Facebook page features an album with about 20 photos of Tyler when he was smaller.

On Facebook, Dasher became a fan of "Being Mommy."

Among the favorite television shows listed are the MTV reality show "Teen Mom" and "First 48 Hours," an apparent reference to the A&E documentary series "The First 48," which follows the initial hours of homicide investigations.

Joel Currier, Valerie Schremp Hahn, Kim Bell, Marlon A. Walker, Patrick M. O'Connell and Denise Hollinshed of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this report.

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