Dayton mother, in prison for killing son in 1992, dies in Ohio prison

UPDATE @ 5:30 p.m.: A Dayton mother sentenced 15 years to life for murder in the 1992 death of her 2-year-old son is dead of an apparent suicide.

Tanisha Nobles, 46, was found May 14 at the Northeast Reintegration Center in Cleveland, in the living area where she was assigned, JoEllen Smith, spokeswoman, Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, said Monday afternoon.

The cause and manner of death is pending an autopsy through the Cuyahoga County Coroner's Office, Smith said.

Late Monday afternoon, Montgomery County Prosecutor Mat Heck Jr.’s office issued the following statement:

“Tanisha Nobles was convicted in 1994 for the senseless and brutal murder of her 2-year-old son, Erick, and was sentenced to 16-and-a-half years-to-life in prison. 

“We have been informed that she apparently took her own life while still incarcerated for the crime. 

 “Our sympathies and prayers are extended to the Nobles family.”

A Montgomery County Common Pleas jury convicted her in the killing on charges accusing her of drowning Erick Nobles in the bathtub because she wanted her freedom.

According to evidence and testimony at trial, she put the child in a trash bag and a few days later threw the body in a Dumpster. The body was never found.

The child disappeared not long after Christmas 1992. According to evidence and trial testimony, Nobles told neighbors the child was staying with his grandmother, who often watched him.

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According to, Nobles told police in early 1993 that she had given Erick to an African-American couple at a local grocery store, that the couple had a child that had recently died.

Nobles told authorities she had given the child away because she "was under a lot of stress."

She claimed she was feeling "like [she] had no kind of freedom, he was always getting into stuff and [she] was always yelling at him."

She stated she "didn't want to get to the point that [she] would hit him or anything like that."

As the questioning continued, she claimed Erick had accidentally drowned in the bathtub when she left him unattended.

She claimed she went downstairs to answer the phone and Erick turned on the water. She said she went back upstairs and turned the water off. She said the phone rang again and Erick turned the water on a second time.

She claimed she went downstairs to answer the second call and then laid out Erick's pajamas.

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Nobles told police, "Then I went downstairs, getting stuff ready for dinner and everything. Then I went back upstairs and water was still running and Erick was just lying in it. I was like 'Erick, Erick' and I was shaking him… I picked him up and laid him on his bed…I just let him stay there for a while.

Tanisha Nobles was indicted on one count of murder for killing her son. A grand jury also indicted her on one count of abusing a corpse and one count of inducing panic. She pleaded not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity to the charges.

While in jail awaiting trial, Nobles changed her story once again.

In a letter sent to Montgomery County Common Pleas Judge Barbara Gorman, Nobles claimed she drowned her son and that two people broke into her home and made her do it. She also reportedly sent a letter to a friend claiming that people to whom she owed money forced her to fill up the bathtub, put Erick inside and leave her apartment. She claimed when she returned that Erick was dead. Police found absolutely no evidence to support this claim.

Nobles' defense requested a gag order banning the woman and attorneys in the case from speaking, requested a change of venue, tried to remove the judge, and unsuccessfully attempted to have Nobles' confession thrown out.

The defense also made an unsuccessful attempt to have the charges dropped because Erick's body was never found.

A jury on Feb. 8, 1994, deliberated about four hours before convicting Nobles on charges of murder and abuse of a corpse. Prior to trial, Nobles pleaded no contest to inducing panic and received a six-month sentence.

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