MOFFAT COUNTY, Colo. — A Moffat County mother whose young daughter died from exposure to the cold after her car became stuck in the mud on a county road admitted to using meth before the incident, according to an affidavit for her arrest.
Kaylee Ann Messerly, 36, also said that she and her children had "no cold weather clothing," even though two coats and a "thick heavy blanket" were found in her car.
Messerly was arrested on Friday related to the incident on March 11 in which a 1-year-old child died and a 3-year-old suffered from exposure, the Moffat County Sheriff's Office (MCSO) said. She faces the following charges:
- One count of child abuse resulting in death
- One count of child abuse resulting in serious bodily injury.
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MCSO said that officers were notified about 8 a.m. March 11 about a suspicious vehicle near County Road 54 in unincorporated Moffat County, which is not frequently traveled in the winter months. The initial caller also said he spotted an empty stroller not far from the vehicle, the affidavit says.
Following her arrest, Messerly told investigators she had used meth on either March 8 or 9. She then left her house about 1 p.m. March 9 "to get the children of the house" and described it as a "nice warm day." She told investigators they went to County Road 54 to "find and pick up small rocks to write numbers on," but her car became stuck in the mud, according to the affidavit.
She said they waited in the car for four hours and when no one came, she decided to start walking with her children to what she thought was a house. It was actually a pump house, the affidavit says.
According to the affidavit, the only pump house in the area is about 300 yards north of where Messerly's vehicle was stuck. Deputies noted, when checked, that it was "unlocked and heated from the equipment inside."
Messerly said once she started walking it "became dark" and started snowing, which caused her to become disoriented and lost, the affidavit says. The document notes that Messerly had been to County Road 54 before and told investigators she had been in the "middle of nowhere gazillions of times" with her children.
The tow truck driver who towed Messerly's car on March 11 said he also had towed her car in December when she became stuck on County Road 18 South. He told investigators that Messerly told him she was out of gas and didn't have any money.
The second night she was stuck, Messerly said she said she sat down with her children on her chest and tried to cover them, the document says. She fell asleep and when she woke up, she discovered her youngest daughter was deceased, according to the affidavit.
Deputies who went to the area on March 11 found Messerly's unoccupied vehicle stuck in mud and snow, according to MCSO.
The vehicle was registered to Messerly. Deputies contacted her sister, who said she had last heard from Messerly on March 9. Her sister said Messerly did not mention plans of leaving but also said "it was not unusual for her to leave without her phone or "take off without telling anyone."
After speaking with deputies, her sister found Messserly's phone at her house.
MCSO said personnel immediately began searching the area with assistance from Moffat County Search and Rescue and an aerial resource from Mountain Air Spray.
Messerly was found about a mile from the vehicle with her 3-year-old daughter, who were both alive and suffering from environmental exposure injuries, according to MCSO.
MCSO said Messerly's 1-year-old daughter was found dead nearby. According to the affidavit, the child was wearing a coat but did not have socks, shoes or any type of head covering. According to the autopsy report, the child's death was ruled an accident and the cause of death was determined to be hypothermia.
Messerly and the surviving daughter were transported by a tracked UTV from the scene to an ambulance and then were taken to Memorial Regional Health in Craig, according to MCSO. Messerly's toes were amputated due to frostbite, the affidavit says.
The surviving daughter was flown via helicopter that afternoon to Children's Hospital Colorado in Aurora. Both Messerly and her daughter tested positive for meth, according to the affidavit. Messerly told investigators that she had tested positive because of eating snow around an oil rig tank that had methane gas written on the side of it. She said one of her children also ate the snow, the affidavit says.
Messerly's surviving daughter had one of the worst, "if not the worst," cases of frostbite ever seen at Children's Hospital, according to the affidavit. The child had both of her feet amputated on March 18.
According to the affidavit, Messerly tested positive for meth when one of her daughters was born but the Department of Human Services did not open a neglect case. Regarding this case, no neglect case was filed, and on March 22, a sheriff's office investigator filed a court motion to "compel" DHS to do so.
Messerly was being held at the Moffat County Jail.
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