Murder charges: Woman intentionally drove car into river near downtown Lawrence in attempt to kill children
DA says defendant had no known link to Lawrence, or state
photo by: Douglas County Sheriff's Office
Story updated at 6:50 p.m. Monday, Aug. 6, 2018:
A woman pulled from the Kansas River on Friday intentionally drove a vehicle into the water to kill her two children, criminal charges filed Monday allege.
One of the children in the car, her 5-year-old daughter, did die. The other, her 1-year-old son, was rescued from the river in critical condition, and remained in intensive care Monday.
Scharron R. Dingledine, 26, of Columbia, Mo., was jailed Saturday and made her first appearance in Douglas County District Court on Monday afternoon via video from the jail.
Dingledine is charged with first-degree murder for allegedly killing the 5-year-old intentionally and with premeditation, according to the complaint. She is charged with attempted first-degree murder for allegedly attempting to kill the 1-year-old by driving into the river.
District Attorney Charles Branson asked for Dingledine’s bond to be set at $1 million, which the judge granted.
Dingledine appears to have no connection to the Lawrence community, or the state of Kansas, Branson said. Also, Branson said, “It appears Ms. Dingledine is a danger to herself and others in the public.”
The judge appointed attorney Carol Cline to represent Dingledine and scheduled her next hearing for Tuesday.
Branson declined to share additional details about the incident after the hearing, saying only that the state is alleging that she drove the vehicle into the water “with an awareness of what would be the consequences to the children.”
Branson said the nature of the crime also led the state to consider Dingledine a danger to herself.
When Judge James George asked whether she understood what she was charged with, Dingledine nodded slightly and answered quietly.
“Yes, your honor,” she said.
Other than responding to yes or no questions, Dingledine didn’t say anything else during the hearing.
The 1-year-old boy, Elijah Lake, remained in intensive care at a Kansas City-area hospital on Monday, his father, Kaleb Lake, of Columbia, told the Journal-World.
Elijah was breathing on his own, Lake said, but his prognosis for recovery is still unclear.
“It’s just little by little,” he said. “Only time will tell.”
Lake said he was grateful to the Lawrence Police Department officers who responded to the scene, and thankful for the ongoing prayers and support Elijah has received from the community.
Lake said he didn’t want to comment further, or to discuss Dingledine or Friday’s incident.
The father of 5-year-old Amiyah Bradley told the Journal-World he hadn’t seen his daughter in about a year and half, which he said was at the request of Dingledine, who was living in Columbia with the boy’s father.
photo by: Clinton Bradley/Contributed Photo
Dingledine had depression, said Clinton Tyler Bradley, of Columbia, who said that’s part of the reason they separated. He said he had growing concerns about Amiyah’s welfare because of Dingledine’s worsening depression, and now wishes he had taken “some kind of action to get custody.”
The fatal incident occurred at about 1:15 p.m. Friday along the south bank of the Kansas River near downtown Lawrence.
Emergency crews responded to reports of a vehicle in the river, and arriving police officers found a woman and the 1-year-old and helped them out of the water. They could not find the 5-year-old, however, even after the car was pulled out of the river late Friday evening.
Amiyah’s body was recovered Saturday morning, and police soon announced that her mother had been arrested on suspicion of murder and attempted murder.
Dingledine does not have a significant criminal history in the area. She has no charges in Douglas County District Court, according to a search of court records. In Missouri, she has a 2010 conviction for misdemeanor property damage in Macon County, according to Missouri court records.
The car entered the river in a little-traveled area, just west of the bridge into downtown Lawrence.
The location is at water level and accessible only by a rough gravel road that’s about 50 yards from the riverbank. The road leads to a power plant and runs alongside train tracks that are in use.
At the scene on Friday, law enforcement had placed crime scene tape in a runway-like pattern from the road leading to the river, though police have not elaborated on why they did that or other details of the incident. The Lawrence Police Department does not anticipate releasing more details, as the case has been turned over to the DA, Capt. Trent McKinley said Monday.
A makeshift memorial for Amiyah had been placed by the river at that spot over the weekend, with colorful flowers, stuffed animals and dolls.
photo by: Elvyn Jones