Mother arrested on first-degree murder charges after her child dies in Kansas River
Scharron Dingledine stood on the bank of the Kansas River, its waves lapping at her feet, watching her two small children splashing in the water.
The river, she allegedly said to herself that late morning Aug. 3, would be a good way to kill both herself and her son and daughter.
The Chevrolet Equinox parked behind her that day was stolen, according to Douglas County court records released Wednesday. Dingledine had fled some 170 miles from her Columbia, Mo., home but was suffocating in despair from fights with her boyfriend and her fear of the consequences of the stolen SUV.
“She decided she was going to kill herself and kill the children,” a Lawrence police detective’s statement read, “because she didn’t want anyone else to have them.”
The narrative in the court record tells how Dingledine’s 5-year-old daughter would die in the river, and how police officers rescued the mother against her will. Dingledine’s 1-year-old son was also rescued, but was on life-support in a hospital. He had initially been labeled dead on arrival before hospital staff revived him.
Dingledine, 26, is facing charges of first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder.
“Let me die! Let me die!” she said repeatedly as officers who swam into the river struggled to bring her to shore.
Police received the call about a vehicle in the river about 1:15 p.m. Aug. 3. The first on the scene, Officer Gwynn Fogarty, did not see a vehicle, but saw debris, a floating diaper, and then a head breaking the surface of the water some 30 yards from shore.
She swam to Dingledine and was soon joined by Officer Brad Fry in helping to bring the woman ashore.
Officer Dustin Lister also entered the water and came out with the small child in his arms, who was rushed to the hospital.
Rescue teams would not find the 5-year-old daughter that day. The SUV was pulled from the water at 7 p.m. that night with no one inside. The girl’s body was found the next morning.
The next day, Dingledine waived her Miranda rights and spoke with detectives. She described physical and verbal “domestic incidents” with her boyfriend during the previous week. She had admitted herself into a psychiatric hospital for several hours the day she fled Columbia.
Dingledine drove the children out of Columbia in her boyfriend’s car to Mexico, Mo., where she said she stole the SUV from a residence. They drove to Kansas City where, Dingledine said, she and the children slept in the SUV overnight.
The morning of Aug. 3, she drove them on to Lawrence where, while driving around the city, she began to think that she wanted to kill herself.
After visiting the river, Dingledine said, she drove around the city one more time before returning to try to drown herself and the children.
The children were with her in the front seat, not restrained by seat belts or child seats, when she accelerated into the water.
Dingledine remained in custody Wednesday at the Douglas County jail.