CAMDEN COUNTY, Mo. -- Police: Suspect claimed toddler accidentally drowned.

Editor’s note: This story contains disturbing images of abuse.

By his own admission, the 23-year-old man accused of killing his live-in girlfriend’s 2-year-old girl had spanked the child and allegedly left her unattended in the bathtub while he went outside to rake leaves, according to documents filed in Camden County Associate Court.

William Tolson Jr. of rural Linn Creek is being held in a Camden County Jail without bond, charged with second-degree murder in connection with the death of Nevaeh Boggan. The child had been left in Tolson’s care Aug. 24 while her mom was at work.

Nine-month-old twins were also in the home at the time. The twins were taken into emergency protective custody and have been placed in foster care.

In documents filed with the court, detectives have pieced together what appears to be the last few hours of the 2-year-old’s life.

Tolson placed a 911 call to the Camden County Sheriff’s Dispatch center about 11 a.m. last Friday. According to the probable cause statement, he told the dispatcher his daughter had been in the bathtub while he was raking leaves and thought he heard her fall. He also told the dispatcher he thought she had water in her lungs.

While the dispatcher walked Tolson through cardiopulmonary resuscitation, a Camden County deputy arrived at the home on Wavy Leaf Drive near Linn Creek.

When the deputy entered the home, the child was lying on the floor. Tolson was attempting to revive her.

The deputy stepped in and tried to save the child from what he believed to be suspicious injuries that were not consistent with a drowning.

Less than 24 hours later, the autopsy performed by a pathologist in Springfield, Mo., where Nevaeh had been taken for treatment, indicated the 2-year-old did not drown.

Her injuries included severe bruising, damage to internal organs and hemorrhaging in the brain that are consistent with physical abuse.

The autopsy’s ruling said Nevaeh was killed by blunt force trauma to the head.

During the initial investigation, detectives questioned Tolson. His story changed and contradicted itself over the course of the next 24 hours, according to court documents.

Tolson was first held for questioning on child endangerment. When the child died, Camden County Prosecutor Jim Icenogle filed murder charges.

When Tolson was first questioned, he told detectives the same story he told dispatchers, that he placed the child in the bathtub and went outside to rake leaves in the back yard.

In the affidavit of probable cause, Tolson said about 20 minutes passed before he went to check on the child. When he did, he said he found her floating face down in the bathtub.

He said he pulled her out and laid her on the living room floor. It was then he told detectives that he made the call to 911 and, following the directions of the dispatcher, started CPR.

Later that day, after the child had been taken to the hospital, detectives overheard Tolson on a cell phone talking to his mother. He allegedly told her he had spanked the child “on the butt. I don’t remember hitting her on her back,” he said during the conversation.

According to detectives, that was the first mention of Tolson allegedly striking the child prior to her death.

In the emergency room, Nevaeh’s mother, identified as Sierra Boggin, met with detectives and noted there were numerous bruises on her child that had not been there that morning when she left for work just before 7 a.m.

Something had happened in those few hours after she left the house.

According to the court documents, Tolson later told detectives the child was lifeless when he removed her from the bathtub. He carried her into the living room and attempted CPR “as he had seen it performed on television shows.” He said he felt it was “working.”

He said he saw yellow water coming from her mouth, listened to her chest and heard a heart beat. At that point, Tolson told detectives he thought she was going to be OK.

Although she was still unconscious, he placed her on the couch.

A short time later, he noticed her lips were turning blue. He again moved her to the floor and tried CPR, but it didn’t work.

That was when he called for help.

Later, in a statement, court documents say Tolson said he wasn’t sure how long the child had been lying on the couch before he made the second attempt at CPR. He also indicated that apparently at some point during the morning, Tolson had gotten angry and “used some physical discipline” as he described it in the court records.

He told detectives he had come out of the bathroom and found the 2-year-old dragging his infant son down the hallway by its arm.

It had happened before, he alleged, and he said he became frustrated when the child was doing it again.

He alleges he turned her over his knee and spanked her but didn’t think he had hit her anywhere else. He then alleged she had either bitten him or he had hit her tooth when he turned her back over. He showed detectives a small cut on his right middle finger.

Tolson admitted he might have hit Nevaeh in the mouth hard enough to cause her to bleed, but he hadn’t noticed the injury.

In the statement, Tolson admitted he believed he might have hit her harder than he intended to. He felt bad because he knew he had hurt her.

After the spanking, Tolson said he sat the child on the couch while he went in the adjoining kitchen area where he “smoked some marijuana to slow down the thoughts in his head.”

He stated he doesn’t usually smoke marijuana in the morning, but he felt “very bad for hitting” her and needed to calm down.

Tolson went on to tell detectives that his thoughts sometimes get “foggy” when he is angry.

He had no explanation for detectives about why he hadn’t talked about the spanking when he was questioned earlier. He said he just hadn’t thought about it.

Tolson alleged he had no idea how Nevaeh could have received the head injury. He said the child had not fallen during the day and the only time he wasn’t watching her was when she was in the bathtub.

Toward the end of his questioning, he said he had not seen or heard her fall at any time. During the interview, the only reference to the twins being in the home was the allegations about the 2-year-old dragging one of the infants down the hall.

Tolson is believed to be the father of the twins. Sierra Boggin is their mother.

A neighbor described Tolson as quiet. The couple had apparently lived in the neighborhood off  Route Y for about six months.

Tolson is believed to be from the Moberly, Mo., area.

Lake Sun Leader

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