Mother charged with murder in boy's drowning

Mother charged with murder in boy's drowning »Play Video
Portland Police Bureau booking photo of Amanda Jo Stott-Smith.

PORTLAND, Ore. - The mother of a 4-year-old boy whose body was pulled from the Willamette River hours before daybreak on Saturday was arrested later that morning and charged with aggravated murder and attempted aggravated murder.

According to police, 31-year-old Amanda Jo Stott-Smith was taken into custody at a downtown Portland parking garage.  Police said when they approached her, she tried to jump off the top floor of the parking garage but they were able to talk her down.

Stott-Smith is accused of being involved in the death of her 4-year-old son, Eldon Jay Rebhan Smith.  His 7-year-old sister, who has not been identified, survived after also spending time in the cold river but was taken to the hospital where she remains in serious condition.  Stott-Smith faces charges of aggravated murder and attempted aggravated murder.

The two children were found in the water just after 2 a.m.  Nearly an hour before then, police responded to a call where someone had reported hearing what sounded like screaming.  When officers arrived, they heard the screaming as well.  A resident in the area who joined the search in his boat found the children in the darkness. 

"What we came up on were two children in the water," said Dave Haag.  "One was face down, the other on her back - flailing, gasping for air.  We pulled them out."

Rescuers tried to resuscitate the boy at shore but he was unable to be revived.

"All I thought was the mother part - why isn't someone crying over this baby?" said Pam Gorder, who lives in the moorage where it all took place.

An autopsy was performed on the child and the medical examiner determined he died of drowning.

Police said the children went into the Willamette River from the Sellwood Bridge but did not say how.

"We know the bridge is the source where those children came from," said Det. Sgt. Rich Austria with the Portland Police Bureau.  "As far as details to the manner of which those children came off the bridge, we're not going to provide that information at this time."

Police were able to identify the children through a missing person's report filed by their father in Tualatin Friday night.  Police said Stott-Smith had joint custody of the children with their father.  Court records show she filed for divorce in March.  Detectives said she has other children who are in protective custody and that she has a prior police record.

Stott-Smith's car was seized as part of the investigation and anyone who might have seen the vehicle (described as a dark blue Audi four-door) on or near the Sellwood Bridge around 1:15 a.m. on Saturday is asked to call police.  Also, anyone who finds something they consider unusual in or along the shores of the Willamette River is asked to call police or Detective Bryan Steed at (503) 823-0395.

Stott-Smith is scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday afternoon.

On Sunday, police said the 7-year-old girl's condition was improving and they expected her to recover.  She remained hospitalized.