Court documents reveal alleged cause of death for infant found dead in backpack in 2019

·3 min read
Columbia Assistant Police Chief Jeremiah Hunter points to the location where the body of an infant was found Aug. 15, 2019.
Columbia Assistant Police Chief Jeremiah Hunter points to the location where the body of an infant was found Aug. 15, 2019.

Editor's note: This story contains graphic details about violence against a child.

Court documents obtained Thursday revealed the alleged cause of death for Samone J. Daniels, a 4-month-old baby girl whose remains were found in 2019 in Columbia.

The documents allege the infant was choked to death with a towel in August 2017 by her father, Staffone R. Fountain, 30, of St. Joseph, who then disposed of the child's remains in a backpack that he stuffed inside a stack of old tires at McKnight Tire on Providence Road.

The remains were discovered by an employee of the business in August 2019.

Fountain was charged Tuesday with first-degree murder and abandonment of a corpse.

The child's mother, Lavosha M. Daniels, 28, of St. Louis, was charged with abandonment of a corpse and first-degree endangering the welfare of a child.

Court hearings are not yet scheduled for Fountain or Daniels, who were both arrested Tuesday. Fountain is not yet in Boone County custody, while Daniels is being held at the Boone County Jail, according to online jail records.

Columbia Police Chief Geoff Jones along with several detectives on Tuesday announces the arrest of two people connected to the death of an infant whose remains were found in August 2019 near the 1900 block of N. Providence Road behind McKnight Tire Co. The infant has been identified as Samone J. Daniels.
Columbia Police Chief Geoff Jones along with several detectives on Tuesday announces the arrest of two people connected to the death of an infant whose remains were found in August 2019 near the 1900 block of N. Providence Road behind McKnight Tire Co. The infant has been identified as Samone J. Daniels.

Previously: Infant remains identified, parents arrested in major breakthrough in Columbia Baby Doe case

Lavosha Daniels is believed to have given birth to at least eight children, according to court documents. Samone Daniels was the only child unaccounted for.

A social media post by Lavosha Daniels in 2020 noted she had a daughter who died, according to court documents.

A break in the case came on June 14 when an unidentified individual came forward to police with a letter that appeared to be written by Lavosha Daniels and had been abandoned at a Columbia Super 8 Motel.

Samone Daniels was a twin, according to court documents; her twin brother was given away for adoption, while Samone was kept by Lavosha Daniels.

The twins were born in April 2017, according to Missouri Department of Social Services and Boone County Children's Division data obtained by the Columbia Police Department, as noted in court documents.

Lavosha Daniels' letter, which was addressed to the Columbia Police Department, indicated her place of employment, her daughter's name and other details.

While some details in the letter did not match with investigative conclusions, such as Daniels' employment period, officers had other sources that confirmed the child's identity and event timeline, according to court documents.

The letter indicated that after a 12-hour shift, Daniels returned to where she and Fountain were residing and found her daughter's "private was real puffy and red and sore," court documents stated.

She fed Samone and then went to bed. When she woke up, she found her daughter in an "unusual position with a towel wrapped around her neck and blood coming from her mouth," court documents said.

Fountain allegedly was with the baby as Daniels slept.

The two attempted CPR on the child, according to the letter, with Daniels fleeing afterward "because she didn't know what to do," court documents stated.

ID cards found with the abandoned letter led officers to a different male partner of Daniels. Consultations with the Missouri Department of Social Services and Boone County Children's Division indicated Daniels had multiple children with both Fountain and the other man identified by police.

At least two children among those accounted for were in Fountain's custody. Three children fathered by the other man identified by police also are accounted for. Other children were in Daniels' custody.

Charles Dunlap covers local government, community issues and other general subjects for the Tribune. You can reach him at cdunlap@columbiatribune.com or @CD_CDT on Twitter. Please consider subscribing to support vital local journalism.

This article originally appeared on Columbia Daily Tribune: Cause of Baby Doe death from 2017 revealed in court documents