Baby’s father: Tyler denied pregnancy
Hillary Tyler, who is on trial for the first-degree murder of her newborn baby, repeatedly denied being pregnant, according to the baby’s father.
However, in a phone conversation after their baby’s death, Tyler told him she drowned the baby, Rodney Cyphers testified Tuesday in Webster County District Court.
Tyler, 32, of Mulhall, Okla., is charged with first-degree murder in the September 2011 death of her infant. The baby was found dead in a room Tyler had rented at the Super 8.
Cyphers, 31, described his relationship with Tyler in 2011 as “very good. We were completely in love.”
He said his family also liked her from the minute they met her.
While Cyphers and Tyler – who were living in Oklahoma – were in Fort Dodge, he performed inspections at Koch Nitrogen, working 12 to13 hours a day, seven days a week. His boss at Industrial Inspection and Consulting had asked Cyphers if Tyler would be interested in a data entry position while Cyphers was doing inspections at Koch, and she had agreed to take it. Consequently, Cyphers worked the night shift while Tyler worked the day shift. They often saw each other, Cyphers said, only in passing between shifts.
Prior to working in Fort Dodge, Cyphers had commented on Tyler’s growing girth in March or April. She denied being pregnant; her explanation, he said was “female issues,” that she had polyps on her uterus. He said she told him she’d had the condition before. She later said she was making doctor appointments, but told him he didn’t need to go.
Other members of this family and a bartender at a local bar in Oklahoma also commented on her growing belly. Cyphers said he told them not to mention it because she was “very touchy about the subject and insecure about her appearance.”
Eventually, he said, Tyler wouldn’t let him touch her stomach and became more physically distant.
When he arrived at their Coalville home after work on Sept. 19, 2011, Cyphers said Tyler wasn’t home but had told him she was in Ames at a women’s clinic and would be home later that day. While he was sleeping before his evening work shift, Tyler texted him to say they had also found a cyst on her cervix and she would be in Ames longer than she anticipated.
Text messages Tyler sent were shown to the jury. One indicated she had had an ultrasound scheduled and was feeling better; another that Cyphers would be “be getting his skinny girlfriend back hopefully” and one said Tyler was sore because all the meds had worn off.
When Tyler returned to the fifth-wheel trailer in Coalville where they lived, she appeared pale, Cyphers said, and needed help getting into the trailer.
Tyler had taken some time off from work, and on the morning of Sept. 20, the couple went to a laundromat and went out for breakfast.
It was still morning, Cyphers said, when he went to sleep – because he had to work at 7 p.m. – and Tyler told him she was taking the truck to go buy aspirin and “female stuff.”
Tyler was back home when they heard a knock at the door. She answered the door, and after a few minutes, Cyphers got up and saw three men with badges outside.
Cyphers said one of the men, an Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation agent, told him Tyler had given birth to a baby in a hotel room and that the baby was no longer alive.
Cyphers said he was surprised and confused. He talked with members of his family and they drove to Fort Dodge from Oklahoma, arriving the next day.
At first, Cyphers said, he if wondered if the baby was his. But a DNA test proved he was the father.
Cyphers said he and Tyler had discussed getting married in Las Vegas in October 2011, that they wanted to be married before they had children, they wanted to travel first, and if they hadn’t had children by the time they were both 40, they weren’t planning to have kids.
However, Cyphers said that if he had known Tyler was pregnant with his baby, “we would have gone to the doctor and done the things you do to become parents.” He said if she had called him from the Super 8, he would have called an ambulance and gone to the motel.
Cyphers said Tyler had previously told him she didn’t want to take birth control pills because they “made her fat,” and that she had gone to a doctor and had an interuterine device implanted but that it fell out. She had told him, he said, that she would get the Depo-Provera contraceptive shot.
After the baby’s death, Tyler had been taken to Trinity Regional Medical Center, and a social worker from there contacted Cyphers, he said, asking if he wanted to talk to Tyler. Although he initially refused, he changed his mind and called back. During that call, he said, they were both crying and she said she had given birth to the baby, who cried. She said she got scared when he cried and put him in the bathtub.
Sherry Vesterby, property manager at the Super 8, testified Tuesday that Tyler showed up at the motel and paid for a room in cash.
The following day, Vesterby said, a motel housekeeper alerted Vesterby to a situation in room 225, the room Tyler had rented.
“When I first entered the room,” Vesterby said, “I saw blood spattered on the walls and a pile of material all over the carpet.”
She said she originally thought there had been a fight in the room, but as she began taking pictures with her cell phone, she began to get an uneasy feeling.
“One of the trash cans was covered with something white,” she said. “I noticed a garbage can on the floor that one of my housekeepers tried to move.”
Sgt. Mike Halligan, of the Webster County Sheriff’s Department, responded to the scene and checked out the trash can, which was covered by bloody towels.
“The towel was folded over the top of the can,” he said. “I began removing the items from the top, and that’s when I found a baby inside the garbage can.”
He said the baby was found face-down in the garbage can.
“It was a full-term baby,” he said. “The child also appeared to be clean.”
DCI Special Agent Ray Fiedler said when he arrived on the scene there were towels saturated with what he believed was blood.
DCI Special Agent Jim Thiele said he helped with the search warrant at the trailer in Coalville.
He said during questioning, Tyler said she delivered her placenta while alone at the trailer and left it in a trash can.
Investigators took a T-shirt, laptop computer and black-handled scissors from the trailer.
“It appeared there was a tinge of material, possibly blood, on the scissors,” Thiele said. “It was found on the blade of the scissors.”
One of Tyler’s attorneys, Joseph McCarville, questioned witnesses regarding what they had heard or seen during the investigation.
Vesterby said although the lobby is right underneath room 225, nobody heard any crying coming from the room.
McCarville also questioned agents on why they didn’t look for any evidence in the motel room’s bathtub.
In his opening statement, McCarville said the jury will see the baby was stillborn, that Tyler did not kill the infant.
“She told the agents the child did not move or cry,” McCarville said. “She went through the trauma of labor and childbirth while alone.”
He also argued that there will be no evidence the baby drowned.
“There is no evidence of live birth, and there is no evidence of drowning,” he said. “The child may have actually died in utero.”
Webster County Attorney Ricki Osborn argued that Tyler’s own testimony will prove her guilt.
“She initially denies it, but then comes clean,” she said. “She tells investigators what she did. Then she tells the same thing the next day to her boyfriend. The defendant admits to drowning her baby, and the physical evidence supports it.”
The case is also being prosecuted by Assistant Iowa Attorney General Laura Roan. Tyler is also being represented by Charles Kenville.
The trial is set to resume today at 9 a.m.