Claudena Marie Helton crossed her handcuffed arms and stared in one direction Monday as a municipal court judge set her bond at $1 million during a video arraignment.
The 30-year-old Dayton mother accused of shooting her 8-year-old daughter Khmorra and 6-year-old son Kaiden in the head — and asking her third child to help drag their bodies outside — may not have known in court that the children had died, according to the judge.
In court documents, Dayton police wrote that Helton said she shot them to “save them from the evils of the world.”
The children’s autopsies were done Monday morning, according to the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office. The children died Sunday night at Dayton Children’s Hospital. Prosecutors hadn’t yet updated the two counts of attempted murder and four counts of felonious assault charges to reflect the children’s deaths.
Dayton Municipal Court Judge Christopher Roberts entered a not guilty plea on Helton’s behalf and scheduled a preliminary hearing for May 30, but the judge said that likely won’t happen because the case will be bypassed to a grand jury. Helton is in the Montgomery County Jail.
Helton — who was naked and in what neighbors said was trance-like state when police arrived just after 10 a.m. Thursday — was interviewed not long after police said passers-by were performing life-saving measures on the children outside the home at 3821 Lori Sue Ave.
According to the affidavit and statement of facts written by Dayton police Det. Rod Roberts, “Ms. Helton made admissions to shooting the children to save them from the evils of the world.”
The affidavit indicated Helton asked her oldest child, an 11-year-old, to assist her in removing the children from the home. The girl was taken from the home and interviewed.
Montgomery County Children Services said it had an open case regarding Helton but declined to provide more details.
Dayton police Chief Richard Biehl said he suspected mental health issues were possible because of Helton’s actions.
“I realized that we failed those babies as a community,” said Kenyatta Bozeman, who brought balloons and a doll to place outside the family’s home. “Because mental health is something we all, we all, should have seen this.”
Khmorra’s father is in prison for murder, and Kaiden’s father said he only saw his son a few times after his birth.
Khmorra’s father is listed as Lynntonio S. Watson, according to birth records. In 2014, Watson, now 30, was convicted of murder and felonious assault in the shooting death of 19-year-old Martell Gray.
Watson fired gunshots that killed Gray and injured two others near Dayton’s Whitney Young Estates. He was sentenced to 37 years to life.
Watson is housed in the North Central Correctional Institution in Marion, according to online records. His first parole hearing is scheduled for July 2050.
Stephen Fletcher, Kaiden’s father, said he tried to track down Helton and his son in the past, but was unsuccessful.
He said he can’t understand why Kaiden is dead and hasn’t been able to get answers about the shooting.
“I feel devastated right now. I can’t sleep, I can’t eat, I don’t even know what to do with myself right now …” Fletcher said. “I feel heartbroken.”
Fletcher said he and Helton were together for six or seven months. He said they wanted to wed after finding out she was pregnant, but they never completed all of the paperwork.
“My 6-year-old son does not deserve this – I don’t know why she would do this,” Fletcher said. “I have no answers for nothing. I don’t know what’s going on.”
Police urge witnesses and residents with any information about the incident to call (937) 333-COPS.