A Kansas woman has been charged with murder in the death of her boyfriend’s 2-year-old daughter.
Lindsey Nichole Thomasson, 24, was arrested on April 4, nearly two months after Presley Porting’s death, the Gardner Police Department says.
Thomasson is being held at the Johnson County Jail on a first-degree murder charge.
Presley’s father, Nick Russom, has not been charged in the case. The girl was living with Russom and Thomasson at their Gardner home at the time of her death.
Few details about the case have been released, but here is what we know so far:
1. The 2-Year-Old Girl Was Found Unresponsive, but Authorities Have Not Released Details About How She Died
Gardner Police were called to the home of Nick Russom and Lindsey Thomasson in the 400 block of Hickory Street on February 7 about 2 p.m. for a report of a girl who wasn’t breathing, KMOV-TV reports.
Russom’s 2-year-old daughter, Presley Kay Porting, was found unresponsive. She was rushed to a local hospital, where she later died, police say.
An official cause of death has not yet been released.
According to WDAF-TV, investigators were seen returning to the Gardner home the day after the toddler died, wearing gloves as they went in and out of the house, removing evidence inside envelopes.
Russom told WDAF-TV he went to the grocery store with his other 2-year-old daughter, leaving Presley, Thomasson and their 1-year-old daughter at home. Presley was taking a nap.
“I had to go get some stuff from the store. And we played a little bit and then I put Pressley to bed,” Russom told WDAF. He told the news station he knew something was wrong when he walked back into the house.
“I asked Lindsey to go get Pressley up from nap because I had a snack for her and that’s when Lindsey screamed my name and from there it just wasn’t good,” he said.
Russom told the news station, “I can’t talk about all that stuff right now because it’s still an ongoing investigation. I can tell you Presley was so well behaved. I mean, everything you asked her to do, she would do it because she was just the perfect little girl. As for Lindsey, I loved her more than anything in the world. I really did. I loved our family and for me, being there with her and my three daughters was the closest to heaven a man could be.”
Presley’s funeral was held on February 16, according to her obituary, which does not mention Thomasson.
The obituary recommended memorial contributions be made to Bikers Against Child Abuse, among other charities.
“Presley’s life was short but those who were lucky enough to know her felt pure joy when she toddled in the room. Her sweet smile, funny personality and big beautiful brown eyes would melt the hearts of those around her,” her obituary says. “Presley loved her Mama, Daddy Grandpa, Grandma, YaYa, Papa, Aunt Kelly and Jennifer. Presley stole the hearts of everyone she came into contact with. She loved to play with her baby dolls, carrying around her purse, going swimming and singing and dancing with her Mama.”
A GoFundMe account was set up by a friend of Presley’s mother, and raised more than $6,500 for funeral expenses. The friend called Presley, “one of the most beautiful little 2 year olds I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. In her short life she has touched the lives of her family and anyone she meets.”
2. Presley Was Living With Her Father & Thomasson While Her Mother Was in Rehab, the Girl’s Grandfather Says
Presley was living with her father, Nick Russom, and his girlfriend, Lindsey Thomasson, while her mother was in in-patient rehabilitation, Presley’s grandfather, Martin Porting, told KMOV-TV.
Martin Porting told the news station he feels “rage, disbelief. I’m heart broken,” he said. “I want whoever is responsible to be held accountable.”
He said his daughter, Stephanie Porting, “was actually watching the news when she saw the house come on.”
Martin Porting said his daughter is now home with family, but, “she’s completely lost. … I don’t know how she is going to survive this,” saying his granddaughter was Stephanie’s “inspiration.”
He said, “She doesn’t sleep,” Martin Porting said about his daughter. And when she does, she wakes up and she’s crying, she’s screaming. She sleeps with Presley’s picture.”
Martin Porting told the news station he let his daughter and granddaughter down.
“As a father, you want to protect your children. I would do anything, I would lay my life down for that little baby. Maybe I should have been more informed or involved,” he said, adding he mistakenly thought Presley was safe living with her biological father. “I don’t know how my little granddaughter is dead when she was in a house with people who were supposed to caring for her and protecting her.”
It is not clear how long Presley was living in the Gardner home with Thomasson and Russom. It is also not known if there had been other incidents involving Thomasson and the girl prior to her death.
Thomasson has worked at a daycare in Johnson County, a source told Heavy. It is not clear when she last worked there.
“I actually had Lindsay babysit my daughter a couple of times, and the girls were so sweet to her every time they went over,” neighbor Almedia White told KCTV in February, prior to Thomasson’s arrest. “I feel so bad for the family because Lindsay and Nick were always so, so good to Kaylee every time she went over.”
White told KMBC-TV she saw Russom crying outside the house as paramedics tried to treat Presley.
“He was bawling,” White told the news station. “He was bawling and he fell to the ground and I knew that it was not good.”
White told KMBC she had “no qualms” about the love Russom and Thomasson had for Presley.
“I would never doubt them,” she said. “Definitely not.”
3. Thomasson Has 2 Daughters With Presley’s Father & He Often Posted on Facebook About the Stresses of Having 3 Young Kids
Thomasson is the mother of two young daughters with Presley’s father, Nicholas Russom, according to his Facebook page.
One of the girls was born in February 2015, not long after Presley was born, and the other was born in February 2016. The three girls lived with Thomasson and Russom at the home in Gardner at the time of Presley’s death.
Russom’s Facebook page is filled with photos of the happy trio of girls celebrating Christmas and other holidays with Thomasson, Russom and other family members, and of the family together in their home.
But he also posted often in the months before Presley’s death about the stress of having three young girls in the house.
Russom wrote on February 4, “I’m hoping I can get some sleep tonight. This shit is starting to wear on this old man. I need a brain shut down switch I can flip whenever needed.”
The night before he wrote, “About to be the 3rd night with NO sleep. My mind is like a friggin race car right now. When I do pass out is just bad dreams till I wake back up.”
In January he wrote, “So my beautiful woman Lindsey Thomasson tells me when I get home that she missed me today and wanted to hang out and snuggle up to watch a movie when the kids went to bed. Something every hard surfing man wants to hear when he gets home. I said great find a movie to rent and we will as soon as they are all down. (Russom’s daughter) had different plans and stayed up partying until 10:50pm. I finally got her down and Linds is alseep with the other 2 babies. Story of our lives!!!”
He also wrote about Thomasson undergoing surgery on February 2, just days before Presley’s death, but it is not clear what the medical procedure was for.
On February 7, the day of his daughter’s death, Russom shared a photo of Thomasson sleeping with the three girls on the night of the 2016 Super Bowl, and talked about watching the game on February 5.
“Well looks like (last) year’s Super Bowl ended up about the sane as this year’s Linds! All my girls sleeping while I finish the game by myself,” he wrote. “At least this year we planned on enjoying it together our babies just had a different idea!”
That post was made about noon. Police were called to the home about 2 p.m. Russom has not posted on Facebook since.
4. Her Boyfriend Says He Lost His Home, His Job, His Car & Custody of His 2 Other Daughters During the Investigation
Police said Thomassson and Russom were engaged, but it has since been called off, WDAF-TV reports.
Russom, 33, works in construction, according to his Facebook page. He is originally from Missouri.
A friend started a GoFundMe account for Russom, in which he says he lost his house, his job, his car and custody of his two surviving daughters during the investigation into Presley’s death.
“In the beginning of February I had 3 daughters,” Russom said. “We lived in a nice home with a great family dynamic. We were living the dream. For a short time I lived in heaven on earth. On February 7th my beautiful 2 year old daughter was taken from this world entirely to soon.”
Russom said he was asking for help so he can get back to his two daughters:
I cannot return to my union job until the investigation is completed and I have transportation. A family friend has been kind enough to let me stay on his couch. I am taking on small side jobs when I can, but they are few and far between. Giving up is not an option. I have two confused and sad little girls wondering where their parents and sister are.
I am working to get another vehicle now so I can return to my work in the union. After that is accomplished I will need to start putting together a new home for my girls. New apartment, furniture, household items.
I have had so many people reach out to suggest a go fund me account, but I have been uncomfortable asking for help. Pride has worked against me in this instance. I have to step out of my comfort zone and ask for help now. My daughters need me and I can’t get back to them fast enough on my own. Giving my little girls the comfort and normalcy they need is my number one priority right now. Their family has been split apart. Their home and most importantly their sister will be gone. (Russom’s daughter) and Presley were very close in age. They were not only sisters, but best friends and I know adjusting to Presley being gone will be a challenge in itself.
“There are no words to explain the heart ache of losing my sweet, perfect, innocent daughter. The nights are the hardest,” Russom wrote. “When I close my eyes the sadness becomes almost unbearable. When I thought I couldn’t handle any more heart break I was dealt another blow and another and another.”
5. Thomasson Is Being Held on $2 Million Bail & Is Due in Court on April 5 for Her Arraignment
Lindsey Thomasson is being held on $2 million bail at the Johnson County Jail, according to online records.
She is charged with first-degree murder while committing or attempting to commit child abuse. Thomasson is scheduled to appear at the Johnson County Courthouse on April 5 at 1:30 p.m. for her arraignment, court records show.
Thomasson does not appear to have a criminal record, except for a traffic ticket in 2015 that was later dismissed.
She was injured in a car crash in Ottawa, Kansas, on March 27, 2017, according to KOFO News.
Thomasson was at a stop sign at the interchange of K-68 and I-35 when a truck was unable to stop and drove into the back of her car, the Kansas Highway Patrol said. Thomasson was hospitalized with “disabling injuries.”
It was the second serious accident Thomasson was involved in. She was also hospitalized in 2011 after she was a passenger in a car that rolled over in a crash in Franklin County, according to the Lawrence Journal-World.