Baby feetTamara Lynn Lass

Undetermined

Tamara Lynn Lass
10 days old
Norwalk, IA
Warren County
March 1, 1988

Case summary compiled by Jody Ewing
Warren County

Warren County in Iowa

On Tuesday, March 1, 1988, Teri Lass of Norwalk, Iowa, claimed she found her 10-day-old infant daughter, Tamara Lynn Lass, unresponsive.

The child was later pronounced dead.

Norwalk in Warren and Polk counties

Norwalk in Polk and Warren Counties

With no visible injuries, authorities first believed the infant died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

During the baby’s autopsy, however, State Medical Examiner Thomas Bennett could find no signs of disease or any other underlying health problems that might have factored into death from SIDS.

During the autopsy, Bennett said, they had considered the fact that a 10-day-old infant is rather young for SIDS.

“In any of these cases of a sudden death for a very small child, anyone less than three weeks of age, you have to be very suspicious because usually SIDS doesn’t occur in that first two- or three-week period of life. It can, but it’s very rare,” Bennett said.

Tamara Lass’s death has frequently (and erroneously) been reported as a SIDS death, even though the medical examiner refused to rule it as such. Bennett’s official report lists the baby girl’s cause of death as “undetermined.”

Another Lass infant found dead
Shane Alex LassCourtesy photo Cedar Rapids Gazette
Six-day-old Shane Lass, shown above, was murdered nearly four years after his 10-day-old sister’s cause of death was ruled undetermined.

Less than four years later on February 19, 1992, Teri Lass claimed that her 6-day-old infant son, Shane Alex Lass, was kidnapped from her unlocked, idling vehicle outside the Norwalk post office. Shane’s body was discovered in a ditch outside Norwalk the day after Lass reported him missing. The infant had died of head injuries.

Immediately following Shane’s murder and amidst lingering questions still raised regarding Tamara’s death, Bennett stated he would pull the file of the couple’s first child for review, just to make sure there were no changes needing made to his earlier ruling.

Bennett, however, made no efforts to petition District Court for permission to exhume Tamara Lass’s body. Known throughout the state for his derisive stance over questioned rulings, Bennett reasoned an exhumation wasn’t necessary because he’d found no physical signs of “injury” to the newborn during the autopsy.

He altered nothing in his original report, however, and Tamara Lynn Lass’s cause of death remains classified as undetermined.

Teri Lass was charged with first-degree murder in Shane’s death. Due to pretrial publicity, the case was moved from Warren County to Newton in Jasper County.

The day of opening arguments, criminal defense attorney Alfredo Parrish — a renowned Des Moines litigator known for his superlative ability to raise reasonable doubt with juries — said jurors had already made up their minds about Lass’s guilt and asked the judge to declare a mistrial.

District Court Judge Darrell Goodhue granted Parrish’s motion, and a third location was selected for trial — in Keokuk in extreme southeast Iowa — where jurors unfamiliar with the full scope of Teri Lass’s interminable claims of victimization and ofttimes implausible allegations might be more sympathetic to her most recent contentions.

Tamara Lass headstoneCourtesy photo Karon King, Iowa Gravestone Photo Project
State Medical Examiner Thomas Bennett finds nothing to indicate Tamara Lynn Lass died of “SIDS.” He rules her cause of death as “undetermined.”

Parrish’s tactics worked once again; despite scores of evidence tying Lass directly to Shane’s blunt force trauma death and the kidnapping note, a Lee County District Court Jury acquitted her March 24, 1993, of murder in her son’s death.

Pending an exhumation and further investigation, she has yet to be charged in her infant daughter’s unsolved death.

Shane Lass’s case also remains open but in name only; Teri Lass cannot be retried in his slaying due to Double Jeopardy laws.

Read more about Shane’s murder and Teri Lass’s explanation for his kidnapping and death.

About Tamara Lass

Tamara Lynn Lass was born to Mark and Teri Lass of Norwalk, Iowa, on Saturday, February 20, 1988. She died of undetermined causes 10 days later on Tuesday, March 1, 1988.

Contrary to statements the Lass family provided to news media alleging their daughter died of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), State Medical Examiner Thomas Bennett ruled out SIDS in Tamara Lass’ death. He listed her cause of death as “undetermined,” and stood by his ruling four years later when the Lass’ 6-day-old infant son, Shane, died of blunt force trauma injuries to his head.

Shane’s body, wrapped in a garbage bag and tossed in a ditch, was found on the same day his sister Tamara should have been celebrating her 4th birthday.

Tamara Lass was laid to rest at Norwalk Cemetery in Warren County, Iowa.

Her body has never been exhumed for further exploration into cause of death in the years following her infant brother’s homicide.

There is no statute of limitations on murder.

Information Needed

If you have any information regarding Tamara Lass’s mysterious death or that of her brother, Shane Alex Lass, please contact the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation at (515) 725-6010 or email dciinfo@dps.state.ia.us.

Sources and References:
  • Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation
  • Norwalk police chief retires amid controversy,” Associated Press/The Moline Dispatch and Rock Island Argus, Saturday, April 10, 1999
  • “Tough defender: Attorney Alfredo Parrish’s specialty is representing murder suspects,” by Dick Hogan, The Cedar Rapids Gazette, February 16, 1997
  • “Mom acquitted of killing baby is pregnant, expecting twins,” Associated Press/The Cedar Rapids Gazette, December 11, 1993
  • “The right to ‘effective’ counsel,” by Dennis Hoffman, The Hawk Eye, April 29, 1993
  • “TV tabloid to feature Teri Lass: ‘Current Affair’ to film in Norwalk,” Associated Press/The Cedar Rapids Gazette, April 11, 1993
  • “Lass regains custody of son,” Associated Press/The Cedar Rapids Gazette, April 2, 1993
  • “Not guilty verdict for Teri Lass,” by Kevin Robbins, The Hawk Eye, Thursday, March 25, 1993
  • “Lass murder trial was far from cut-and-dry case,” by Kevin Robbins, The Hawk Eye, Thursday, March 25, 1993
  • “Lass found innocent in son’s death,” The Spencer Daily Reporter, March 25, 1993
  • “Lass acquitted of murder: Her attorney rakes poor investigation,” Associated Press/The Cedar Rapids Gazette, Thursday, March 25, 1993
  • “Lass murder trial goes to jurors,” The Cedar Rapids Gazette, March 24, 1993
  • “Composed Lass recounts final day with son,” The Cedar Rapids Gazette, March 23, 1993
  • “Lass takes witness stand at her murder trial,” by Kevin Robbins, The Hawk Eye, March 22, 1993
  • “Sister testifies: Man raped Teri Lass, threatened her,” Associated Press/The Cedar Rapids Gazette, Friday, March 19, 1993
  • “Lass jury gets extended weekend break,” by Kevin Robbins, The Hawk Eye, Friday, March 19, 1993
  • “3 cars matching Lass’ said to be in Norwalk,” The Cedar Rapids Gazette, March 18, 1993
  • “Lass defense witnesses testify,” by Kevin Robbins, The Hawk Eye, Wednesday, March 17, 1993
  • “Testimony: Car seat prints not mom’s,” The Cedar Rapids Gazette, March 17, 1993
  • “DCI agent: Fingerprints not Lass’s,” by Kevin Robbins, The Hawk Eye, Tuesday, March 16, 1993
  • “Lass trial witness saw car near site of body,” Associated Press/The Cedar Rapids Gazette, March 16, 1993
  • “Police say Lass was calm,” by Kevin Robbins, The Hawk Eye, Sunday, March 14, 1993
  • “DCI: Kidnap note came from mom’s magazine,” The Cedar Rapids Gazette, March 13, 1993
  • “Lass’ murder trial begins,” Associated Press/The Cedar Rapids Gazette, March 12, 1993
  • “DCI agents testify at Lass murder trial,” by Kevin Robbins, The Hawk Eye, March 12, 1993
  • “Jury chosen for trial on baby’s death,” The Cedar Rapids Gazette, March 11, 1993
  • “No jury selected yet in mother’s murder trial,” Associated Press/The Cedar Rapids Gazette, March 10, 1993
  • “Lass trial to open Tuesday in Keokuk,” by Kevin Robbins, The Hawk Eye, Monday, March 8, 1993
  • “Vote for ’92’s top stories,” The Cedar Rapids Gazette, December 13, 1992
  • “Retrial in baby death expected east of Newton,” Associated Press/The Cedar Rapids Gazette, December 5, 1992
  • “Jury selection in Lass case continues,” The Cedar Rapids Gazette, December 3, 1992
  • “Accused killer’s sister to care for son,” Associated Press/The Cedar Rapids Gazette, April 18, 1992
  • “Child’s custody mulled,” The Associated Press/The Cedar Rapids Gazette, March 8, 1992
  • “Teri Lass pleads innocent,” The Spencer Daily Reporter, March 7, 1992
  • “Hearing delayed in murdered baby case,” The Cedar Rapids Gazette, March 5, 1992
  • “Lass custody hearing set: Mother accused in baby’s death,” Associated Press/The Cedar Rapids Gazette, March 2, 1992
  • “Mother charged in baby’s killing: Had claimed son taken from car,” The Cedar Rapids Gazette, Wednesday, February 26, 1992
  • “Mother charged with baby’s murder,” The Spencer Daily Reporter, February 26, 1992
  • The Hawk Eye, February 26, 1992
  • “Baby’s Funeral,” The Cedar Rapids Gazette, February 25, 1992
  • “Funeral today for murdered Norwalk baby,” The Cedar Rapids Gazette, Monday, February 24, 1992
  • “Baby probe continues: No new clues in death of Norwalk baby,” The Hawk Eye, Monday, February 24, 1992
  • “No new clues found in death of Norwalk tot,” Associated Press/The Cedar Rapids Gazette, February 23, 1992
  • “Killing of baby prompts new look at ‘SIDS death’,” The Cedar Rapids Gazette, Saturday, February 22, 1992
  • “Missing baby’s body found in ditch,” The Spencer Daily Reporter, February 21, 1992
  • “Missing newborn baby found dead in farm ditch,” The Hawk Eye, Friday, February 21, 1992
  • “Baby kidnapped: 6-day-old taken from car,” The Cedar Rapids Gazette, Thursday, February 20, 1992
  • “6-day-old baby taken from unlocked auto,” The Hawk Eye, Thursday, February 20, 1992
  • “History for Des Moines, IA,” Weather Underground, Wednesday, February 19, 1992
  • Shane Alex Lass (1992 – 1992) — Find a Grave Memorial
  • Tamara Lynn Lass (1988 – 1988) — Find a Grave Memorial
  • LASS, SHANE ALEX – Warren County, Iowa | SHANE ALEX LASS – Iowa Gravestone Photos
  • LASS, TAMARA LYNN – Warren County, Iowa | TAMARA LYNN LASS – Iowa Gravestone Photos

 

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61 Responses to Tamara Lass

  1. This horrific lady and her husband are both on Facebook and it is absolutely disgusting the things they post on their walls. They have gone on to live happily ever after while two of their babies lay in a cold snow covered graves. There is NO doubt in my mind that God will be their judge, jury and executioner. Hell bound they are.

  2. I agree I’ve seen their pages and they have one son who I think is lucky to be alive and grown how can any parent kill their own child

  3. Yes their son just got married. I pray they don’t ever leave their future babies with these murders

  4. That really is a little o coincidental that they lost two very young kids to murder….wonder what happened that helped her get acquitted?

    • Sorry, posted my response under different comment. Her acquittal was based on “good lawyering” (she had Alfredo Parrish as her lawyer). He’s the best criminal defense attorney in the state (perhaps the U.S.) and can raise reasonable doubt in jurors’ minds despite mountains of rock solid evidence.

    • Crazy! Thanks for commenting. Sometimes I wonder how some of those guys can sleep at night. I wanted to be a lawyer growing up and it was always a prosecutor but I know that can be tough too if u are prosecuting someone who is innocent….double edge sword I guess

  5. What are the names under? I cant find them.

  6. their actual names. She has no profile photo up but her husband does.

  7. Mark lass and Teri lass

  8. Eddi Stearns says:

    My phone was taking forever to load :/

  9. I can’t believe that she has a job as a patient care advocate!

  10. Holly Rice says:

    I knew her as a kid and showed horses with her. She was always so quiet and shy. Can’t believe she turned into a cold blooded killer. Shows that still waters run deep.

  11. Kari Daly says:

    Wow. Just horrible.

  12. Andrea Coco says:

    Everybody knows who did it.

  13. She worked at sears credit, just after i left to raise my newborn, couldnt believe she had been aquitted, she is lucky i no longer worked there, I would have loved to have a little chat

  14. This lady is a damn psychopath. I find it hard to believe she was ever “shy”. She obviously thrives on attention. All that other sh*t she made up on top of it? How can a jury not convict? I don’t care about reasonable doubt. That goes out the window when u have TWO babies that died..one mysteriously & the other brutally murdered & have been caught lying about a supposed rape. How in the hell did her son survive?? Why? Why not kill him too? Did she figure she could never get away with it again? Why have anymore kids even? Strange that they’re still married. Both share the secret. Sick, sick, sick!!!

  15. Here’s 1 of their kids. Someone said he was charged w impersonating an officer as well as the sexual abuse. Someone inherited mom’s evil.

  16. You all need to shut your mouths

  17. Such a sad story. rest in peace babies

  18. Guess he is lucky to be alive with a mom like his, but maybe the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree?

  19. I pray someone comes forward. This is
    so sad heart breaking and sad.

  20. Jeni Hervey says:

    She has a Facebook profile. Says she still in Norwalk. Her profile is herself holding a baby! Who on earth would let her around children?????????

  21. Jeni Hervey says:

    Kimberly Ann Lawman

  22. Mandie El says:

    I couldn’t read this story, stories of baby’s make me so mad. She will pay for what she did or let happen. May them babies find peace in the loving arms of our Lord.

  23. Another mom killed her baby there in Norwalk and got away with it if I remember correctly.

    • I’ve lived in norwalk my whole life. I don’t know anyone else in town that killed their baby. She was the only one but there’s been a couple murders

    • Crystal Reynolds Halstead maybe that’s what I remember then. Thanks

    • Crystal Reynolds Halstead You might be remembering two babies b/c of one Lass female infant and one Lass male infant. One just 6 days old, the other 10 days old. About four years apart with deaths.

    • Yes their was the 2 lass infants but it’s the same mother. There isn’t another mother that killed her baby and got off. That’s what I was saying. Jill was saying there was 2 different moms

      • Kim says:

        Wasn’t there a case back in the mid-2000s where a mom killed her baby by leaving it in a hot car? I was thinking that was maybe somewhere out near Norwalk. She claimed she forgot all about dropping it off at daycare and drove on to work, leaving it to die in its carseat on a hot summer day. She was charged with either first or second degree murder but was either acquitted or found guilty on a lesser charge. Can’t remember the specifics but maybe someone else’s memory might be jogged on it.

    • I can’t think of words bad enough for her if she did kill both of her babies.

    • What concerns me about the first one’s unexplainable death is that even after the medical examiner refused to rule it SIDS, the Lass family continued to lie to others and call it SIDS. (Not like those folks would dare ask to see the death certificate to refute a poor grieving mother’s word.) Just tell people something often enough and it becomes a given truth, right? W R O N G! And then of course there’s Teri’s alleged “rape” (when she was 5 months pregnant with Shane, no less), but when a sister (very wisely) talked her into going to the hospital to report that same-day rape, weeeelll … you already know the rest of that story. No Rape. Not even signs of sex. (Hubby was away in Japan.)

      Yet this same invisible masked intruder allegedly kidnapped and killed her son while she left him unattended in the car despite the slippery stalker’s threat to kill the baby if she told anyone about the [fabricated] rape? No doubt the mischievous sprite also was responsible for the multiple break-ins and fires set at the Lass home. Read Shane’s case summary to learn what detectives had to say about Teri’s carefree demeanor and actions from the moment she reported Shane missing. Not a single tear. Ask some of the expert witnesses about the ransom note with all the piece-by-piece ‘cutting pattern tears’ perfectly matched back to the tape found in the Lass’s home, and those ominous words cut straight out of a ‘True Story’ magazine bearing Teri’s subscription label. Sorry folks, but one can’t blame local or state investigators for this one that got away. Oh yeah, Teri did finally cry. Some verdicts can do that to a person.

  24. Two babies die mysteriously and she’s out there just living her life. Of course the babies aren’t living THEIR lives because someone took their lives from them!

    • Samantha Stevens-Clay, only one of the Lass infants (Tamara) died a mysterious death. Shane was killed by blunt force trauma to the head so there was never any question as to how he died. His case basically remains open in name only because officials are certain they charged and tried the person responsible for his death. Teri may have been found not guilty (which any LE official will tell you is not the same thing as being found “innocent”), but officials are not looking for anyone else in his death because the (plentiful) evidence already proved who did it.

  25. Prayers for justice for these babies.

  26. Molly says:

    I grew up 3 blocks away from their house, and she worked for my mother briefly after the second child died. She seemed like just an ordinary person to me, but I was very young. I know they had problems with constant vandalism and harassment up until Rick Forsyth killed six people (2 blocks away) and took the attention off of what happened to Shane Lass. I like to think (if she did do it) it was a postpartum psychosis situation exacerbated by her first child’s birthday, and that maybe she got help.

  27. mik says:

    From my experience in the Iowa Air National Guard during following these questionable years, it was VERY obvious that every time her husband was deployed, an EMERGENCY of who knows what THIS time happened that required the Air Force to ship his ass home following HER BULLSHIT that she either created or greatly OVER EXAGGERATED. HER character is, and has always been greatly, questionable.

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