Texas mom of dead 2-year-old charged with ignoring accused killer’s warnings

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Texas mom of dead 2-year-old charged with ignoring accused killer's warnings

The Texas mother of a murdered 2-year-old boy has been charged for ignoring warnings from her ex-lover, who has been accused of the killing, that he was abusing the tot — and wanted to see him “culled,” according to court documents.

Amber McDaniel, 31, was indicted by a grand jury last Thursday with child endangerment and evidence tampering tied to the October 2018 death of her son, Jason Wilder McDaniel, according to court records shared by KFDX.

The charges stemmed from a series of disturbing text and Facebook messages found when investigators unlocked the phone of James Staley, McDaniel’s ex-lover, who has been charged with murdering the toddler, who was sleeping over in his home in Wichita Falls.

James Staley III
James Staley III admitted he pushed the boy’s face in a dirty diaper and repeatedly beat him.
Wichita Falls County Jail

The messages — allegedly deleted by McDaniel — show that Staley had admitted to the mom that he had pushed her son’s face in a dirty diaper and repeatedly beaten him, charging documents show.

“Staley repeatedly communicated violence and hatred toward” the boy, including “that he believed Jason Wilder McDaniel needed to be ‘culled,’” the documents said.

He also “stated that he wanted to and/or had placed” him “in a Tinderbox” — and just 10 days before the alleged murder said that he hoped the toddler had “died from SIDS,” or sudden infant death syndrome.

“Despite the foregoing warnings,” McDaniel “continued to entrust” Staley to babysit her son, who also stayed at his house “while she was asleep and/or drunk in the other room,” the documents say.

Two-year-old Jason Wilder McDaniel was found dead on the floor near his crib on the morning of October 11, 2018
Two-year-old Jason Wilder McDaniel was found dead on the floor near his crib on the morning of October 11, 2018.
Family Handout

McDaniel had said she found her son dead outside his crib while staying over at Staley’s house.

At the time, she was on a break from the toddler’s dad — who has since reconciled with her and told KFDX that he is “still right beside her” even after the charges and details of the disturbing messages.

Amber McDaniel
James Staley admitted to Amber McDaniel in text and Facebook messages that he believed her son needed to be “culled.”
Facebook

He insisted that his now-wife — whom he appeared to have married in April 2019, after their son’s death — was tricked by “a master manipulator” who McDaniel assumed was joking with the sick messages.

They had “very heated discussions where even the police have come around,” said the dad.

“We’ve had these long, hard talks — and I stand behind my wife,” he told KFDX-TV.

“Only one person killed my son,” Bubba McDaniel insisted of Staley. “He’s a full-on coward and he needs to be brought to justice.”

McDaniel and his wife had earlier sued Staley for more than $1 million for taking their “pride and joy away from them forever,” the Times Record News reported at the time.

Staley was indicted on capital murder charges in October 2020, KFDX said. He has pleaded not guilty and is free on $1.2 million in bail bonds, with a pretrial hearing scheduled for Aug. 6.

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