Grand jury indicts Amber McDaniel on two charges

Published: Jul. 22, 2021 at 3:10 PM CDT
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WICHITA FALLS, Texas (KAUZ) - A Wichita County grand jury indicted Amber McDaniel Thursday on charges relating to the death of her son, 2-year-old Wilder McDaniel, in 2018.

Amber has been indicted on charges of abandoning or endangering a child and tampering or fabricating physical evidence. Wichita Falls police said she turned herself in after they issued two felony arrest warrants in early July; she bonded out on July 8.

According to court documents, Amber admitted on July 2 of this year to deleting messages between herself and James Staley III, the man arrested for Wilder’s murder. She also said she did a factory reset of her phone in late September 2018, which wiped her phone of previous messages.

Investigators said those messages showed Staley’s hostility, hatred and violence toward Wilder.

Investigators were able to finally recover most of those messages through Staley’s phone in the spring of 2021.

One message that investigators called attention to was in reference to Wilder and his dad. It read: “Scumbags and p*****s need to be culled. They both fall in that category. And I got plenty of guns.”

Amber told investigators Staley later apologized and claimed he was off his medication at the time.

Investigators said she kept seeing him and taking Wilder over to Staley’s house overnight even after several threats.

In a recovered video on Staley’s phone that was taken while Wilder was at Staley’s home, Staley can be seen holding Wilder with bruises on his head, asking Wilder if he pushed him off the bed. Investigators say the child said he did, while Staley responded, “That’s not what happened.”

According to court documents, Amber and Wilder had been staying at Staley’s house for about two months leading up to Wilder’s murder.

Staley was previously arrested for first-degree murder and is facing trial. Recently a fourth judge was named to his case after three others previously recused themselves.

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