ONAWA, Iowa — A two-month investigation has determined that 15-month-old Markis Dahms drowned when his face was held under the bathtub faucet, allowing water to fill his nose and mouth, authorities said Thursday.
The boy's mother, Ashley D. Cameron, 25, is charged with first-degree murder in his death. She is being held on $1 million bail at the Monona County Jail.
Assistant Onawa Police Chief Jim Fouts said during a press conference Thursday that Cameron called 911 just after 7 p.m. on Feb. 11 and told investigators that the boy had died accidentally in the bathtub.
“Ashley lived by herself with her two children,” Fouts said. “We believe she acted by herself.”
The child was taken to the Burgess Health Center in Onawa, where he was pronounced dead.
Fouts said the only other person in the house at the time was Cameron's 2½-year-old daughter, Abigail Dahms. Abigail was removed from the house a few days later by the Iowa Department of Human Services and placed with a relative.
The children's father, Grant O. Dahms, was not living in the house and had no part in the death, Fouts said. A relative said neither Dahms nor anyone in the family would comment.
A woman at the house where the death occurred also declined to comment.
Fouts said that Dahms and Cameron grew up in the Onawa area and that she is a 2006 graduate of Westwood High School in Sloan, Iowa.
Fouts said several people were interviewed over the past two months, including nurses and doctors at the health center who tried to revive the boy.
Special agent Mitch Mortvedt of the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation said an accumulation of evidence, including results of an autopsy by the Iowa State Medical Examiner's Office, led to the charges against Cameron. The Monona County Sheriff's Office also participated in the investigation.
The autopsy found that the cause of the boy's death was drowning and that it was a homicide, Mortvedt said. “When everything was put together, we determined that the evidence pointed to (Cameron).”
Fouts said the last homicide in Onawa occurred in 1976.
World-Herald staff writer Roseann Moring contributed to this report.
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