Mother, boyfriend charged in death of toddler found in dresser

Posted at 5:32 PM, April 26, 2023 and last updated 5:32 PM, April 26, 2023

By: James Howell Jr., Katie Cox

INDIANAPOLIS (WRTV) — The mother of a toddler who was missing for over two months and her boyfriend are now being charged in her death.

The body of Oaklee Snow was located in a dresser drawer at an abandoned property in Morgan County, according to court documents filed against Madison Marshall and Roan Waters. The child’s body was located on April 21 after Marshall was extradited back to Indianapolis from North Carolina.

Marshall, 22, is facing two counts of neglect of a dependent resulting in death in the case, four other counts of neglect and assisting a criminal who committed murder.

flowers and makeshift memorial with missing child sign

A makeshift memorial and sign in Indianapolis. (WRTV)

Waters, 25, is charged with murder, six counts of neglect of a dependent and battery.

Oaklee was last seen in Indianapolis in February. She would have turned 2 years old on March 10.

“As parents, we have a duty to protect our children. Not only did these two individuals fail to live up to that responsibility, but the allegations in the probable cause affidavit indicate that Oaklee suffered a horrific death and an abandonment that diminished the dignity that any child deserves,” Prosecutor Mears stated. “I want to thank the multiple law enforcement agencies and our prosecutors who worked tirelessly to locate this child and seek justice on her behalf.”

“This case is one of the most challenging types of cases for a community and for our investigators,” said IMPD Chief Randal Taylor. “I want to thank the hard work the IMPD Missing Persons Unit detectives put into this investigation. When they learned there was a chance Oaklee Snow may have been in Indianapolis, detectives put in a tremendous amount of effort into locating her. I want to also thank all of the law enforcement agencies who assisted in this investigation, both in Indiana and across the country.”

Oaklee Snow and her younger sibling were first reported missing in January of 2023 by Oaklee’s biological father in Cromwell, Oklahoma. According to that initial report, Marshall and Waters took the children and were heading to Indianapolis, where Waters’s family lives.

On Feb. 9, investigators say the couple abandoned the 7-month-old boy at a home on the south side of Indianapolis.

Waters’ mother and sister retrieved the boy from the home. The baby was in the arms of the man who lives there and had no clothes on, according to the affidavit.

Waters told his mother that he and Marshall left the boy because they had to rush Oaklee to the emergency room after she was injured in a fall, investigators said.

Waters’ family turned the child over to the Department of Child Services and told officials they feared that Oaklee might have been badly injured, according to the affidavit.

Investigators say Marshall and Waters left Indiana after that and traveled to Colorado.

On March 3, investigators say police in Greenwood Village, Colorado, arrested Waters at a hotel on a domestic abuse-related warrant out of Oklahoma. The charges stemmed from an incident in November of 2022 where Waters allegedly struck Oaklee and Marshall multiple times, according to court documents. Neither Marshall or Oaklee was with Waters at the time of his arrest.

Waters told police in Colorado that he, Marshall and her two children stayed at a “trap house” in Indianapolis before they traveled to Colorado.

“He further stated that he and Marshall made the decision to abandon (the seven-month-old boy) at the trap house, and also left (Oaklee) behind in Indiana before traveling to Colorado,” Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Detective Nicholas Hubbs wrote in the affidavit. “(Waters) was unwilling or unable to provide any further information about the trap house or the locations of either child.”

Waters was being held in a Colorado jail awaiting extradition to Oklahoma and had frequent telephone calls with his mother, the affidavit said.

“During these calls, he informed (his mother) that he had lied to police and had indeed been present when the children were each abandoned,” Hubbs wrote. “He admitted to assisting Madison Marshall with specifically dropping (Oaklee) off somewhere. However, he did not provide specific details.”

DCS officials returned Oaklee’s baby brother to the custody of his father in February, according to the affidavit.

At the time, police had not been able to locate “any trace” of Oaklee.

“It is believed that she is deceased and disposed of,” Hubbs wrote in the affidavit.

Marshall was later located alone in North Carolina and taken into custody. She was extradited back to Indianapolis on April 21.

While being interviewed by detectives Marshall admitted that she and Waters killed Oaklee on Feb. 9 “around 1:30 p.m.” and abandoned her body on “family land” in Martinsville, Indiana.

Marshall also told detectives that Waters had frequently abused Oaklee and would beat her for little things like “holding a fork wrong.” She said that it became so bad that Oaklee refused to eat around Marshall and if she tried to intervene Waters would abuse her too.

According to court documents, Marshall said the day of the incident she was in the kitchen when she heard Waters start screaming at Oaklee. She said she could hear him ordering her to bounce on a rubber ball which she says the child was likely “too small” for.

About 10 minutes later, Marshall told detectives she heard Waters scream for her and ran into the room to see him holding Oaklee who was struggling to breathe and “gurgling blood”. She said Waters stripped Oaklee’s clothes and placed her in cold water to try to revive her.

Marshall claims she tried to call 911 while this was happening but that Waters had slapped the phone from her hand. After failing to revive her in the cold water, they wrapped Oaklee in a blanket, put her in the vehicle, and drove her to the abandoned property in Morgan County, according to court documents.

Marshall led investigators to the abandoned property where detectives found Oaklee’s body shoved inside a dresser in an abandoned structure.

The child’s remains will be formally identified by the Morgan County Coroner’s Office.

This story was originally published on April 26, 2023, by WRTV in Indianapolis, an E.W. Scripps Company.