Dayton officer recounts finding dead baby alone

Det. Sarah Moody, who was in June 2020 a patrol officer, recounts how officers entered into an apartment where a baby was found dead.

A Dayton detective who was on patrol last year recounted the moments she found a baby alone and dead in his crib and testified about the officer’s interactions with the child’s mother who is now charged.

Detective Sarah Moody took the stand Friday morning in the case against Wanisha Smith. Smith, 34, is facing an involuntary manslaughter charge and an endangering children charge in connection to the death of her 1-year-old son, Darius Hall Jr.

A statement of facts by police says Smith admitted that on or about May 16, her son was injured when his head bumped a chair. She allegedly told police that she knew he was hurt, but never attempted to provide medical care, according to an affidavit.

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She’s pleaded not guilty in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court and is being held in the Montgomery County Jail on $1 million bond.

Smith’s attorney, Jeffery Hunter, filed a motion to suppress in the case. He told Judge Mary Montgomery that the defense wants the court to toss out statements made by Smith to police. The motion says that Smith was on a multi-day alcoholic binge that included different types of whisky and other alcohol.

Moody, who was a patrol officer at the time of the baby’s death, said she dispatched herself and a partner to an apartment on North James H. McGee after a call came in for a welfare check.

“A neighbor called in requesting that officers check on the welfare of the occupant who lived across the hall due to a foul smell that was coming from the apartment,” the detective said.

Wanisha Smith, far right, listens as Dayton Police Detective Sarah Moody recounts finding a baby dead inside an apartment alone.
Wanisha Smith, far right, listens as Dayton Police Detective Sarah Moody recounts finding a baby dead inside an apartment alone.

She said from the hallway you could smell a stench coming from the apartment.

Moody said that police were unable to contact the apartment’s management and called the fire department to help gain entrance into the building. The fire department was able to enter through a window, the police detective said.

The fire department let the police in and Moody said they made their way to the bedroom.

“Upon entry, you could see (a portable crib) inside that bedroom and when we looked inside the crib we found a deceased child,” she said.

She said an investigation was launched at that point and mail inside the home led police to seek Smith for questioning. She said police found the woman at a different home and that she cooperated with police as they drove her to the downtown public safety building for an interview.

Moody said after the interview was finished, she and her partner transported Smith to the jail.

Hunter and Prosecutor Kim Melnick questioned Moody about whether she noticed if Smith was intoxicated during their interactions. Moody said that she did not smell alcohol and did not believe her to be.

A next court date was set for July where the detective who interviewed Smith is expected to testify.