UPDATE: Tuesday, June 30, 5:01 p.m.
Wilder McDaniel’s brother Brian McDaniel started an online petition on June 28, 2020, addressed to Gov. Greg Abbott, President Donald Trump and Senator Ted Cruz to “get Justice4Wilder”. You can view that petition here.
UPDATE: Tuesday, June 30, 12:15 p.m.
Bubba McDaniel, father of Jason Wilder McDaniel, spoke with our crew about Chief Borrego’s comments and persons of interest being named for the first time.
WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) —The Wichita Falls Police Chief is speaking for the first time since 2019 about the death investigation into Jason Wilder McDaniel, a 2-year-old boy who was found dead. Manuel Borrego is also publicly naming persons of interest in the case for the first time.
Wilder’s body was found at the home of James Staley on Irving Place on October 11, 2018. Borrego said evidence taken from the home that day was then taken to a lab. On October 22, police conducted a follow-up evidence search at Staley’s home.
During Tuesday morning daily police briefing, Borrego stopped by to give a statement to reporters after our newsroom submitted a request to meet with him about the investigation. Borrego did not take questions from reporters having giving his statement.
“Anytime, you’re investigating a potential homicide of a child, like we are in this case where you have multiple adults that have access to the child, that being James Staley and Amber Odom who continue to be people of interest in this,” Borrego said. “We have no eyewitnesses and no confessions. So we have to use forensic evidence to exclude one of the individuals for the investigation.”
Listen to Chief Borrego’s full statement below:
The cause and manner of Wilder’s death are both listed as undetermined by the Dallas County Medical Examiner’s Office. Borrego said that was a major hurdle in the investigation.
However, Borrego did outline key steps authorities have taken in this case.
“We brought in a crime scene reconstructionist to help us with the crime scene,” Borrego said. “We used two national experts on fingerprints to analyze the forensic evidence that we had. So these were not just, you know, using DPS lab or something these were actually national experts.”
Borrego said investigators also brought in some DNA forensic scientists, but none of their reports produced evidence that would show by probable cause the death of Wilder. In the end, Borrego said forensic evidence didn’t give them what they needed.
Wilder’s case is open and will remain active, Borrego said.
“We work closely with the district attorney’s office on this case and try to come to a resolution because we certainly want justice for that baby also here at the police department,” Borrego said.
Wilder’s parents filed a lawsuit last April accusing Staley of assault, negligence, and gross negligence related to the death of their son for more than $1 million. The civil case has been delayed.
When asked about how McDaniel felt about his wife being named as a person of interest, McDaniel said, “We’ve already known that was coming, that’s just something I’ve been prepared for, for a long time. Whenever they do name James, I knew they were going to name Amber.”
In a meeting with police, McDaniel was shown pictures of the scene where Wilder was found. He said although the pictures were tough to look at, they provided some form of closure for him.
“There’s a lot of closure I needed from seeing those pictures, I needed a lot of different things. It’s a real weird reality that gets shocked into you at that point compared to all the gloom and doom,” McDaniel said.