2-Month-Old Dawson McKinney Dies of Traumatic Closed Head Injury, and Mom is Charged with First Degree Murder

Dawson Jace McKinney
Dawson Jace McKinney. (Facebook)

Postpartum depression or postpartum psychosis may be involved in the death of a two-month-old baby in Idaho.

On Monday, May 11, EMS responded to a home in the 2000 block of North Swanson Avenue near Ten Mile Road and Cherry Lane in Meridian, Idaho on a report of an unresponsive infant. The EMTs made the decision to alert police. Two-month-old Dawson McKinney was rushed to St. Luke’s hospital in Boise.

Dawson was found to be suffering from severe head injuries, including bleeding on the brain, retinal injuries, and a skull fracture. His mother, 26-year-old Danielle Radue, had taken him to a neighbor’s house to call 911, claiming Dawson had been vomiting and his breathing was labored.

Danielle was arrested that evening by Meridian Police on one count of felony injury to a child. She made bond and was released, although a no contact order prevented her from being near her son during his final days, which he spent connected to tubes and wires in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit.

Dawson’s father, former U.S. Marine Adam McKinney, continued updating his friends, family, and the public on Dawson’s condition throughout the week. 

  • Adam McKinney post about Dawson
  • Adam McKinney post about Dawson

Tragically, on Friday, May 15, Dawson succumbed to his injuries around 6:30 PM. He spent his final moments with his daddy, who is understandably heartbroken.

  • Adam McKinney holding injured son Dawson
  • Adam McKinney post about son Dawson dying
  • Adam McKinney post about Dawson
Danielle Radue's booking photo/mugshot
Danielle Radue’s booking photo.
(Ada County Sheriff’s Office)

On Friday, Danielle was rearrested on an additional charge of first-degree murder, according to a news release from the Meridian Police Department. The warrant specified a $1 million bond. Danielle was arraigned on Monday, May 18, at which time her attorney requested her bond be reduced to $10,000. Ada County Magistrate Judge John Hawley maintained her bond at $1 million. She is being held at the Ada County Jail. Her next court date is set for May 29 at 8:30 AM.

A news release on Monday by Ada County Coroner Dotti Owens stated that Dawson died due to “traumatic closed head injuries.” The manner of death is pending further study and investigation by police. 

This boy had a great head of hair!
(Facebook)

A GoFundMe account was created by Adam’s cousin to help pay for medical expenses for little Dawson and other unforeseen financial hardships his father will face as a result of Dawson’s untimely death. The campaign reads, “Dawson was a sweet baby boy who was taken [too] soon due to unfortunate circumstances. His untimely death was a great tragedy to his family. He fought for his life in a week long battle, surviving past the doctors estimated time by 30 hours, unfortunately his battle came to an end.”

The campaign describes Dawson. “He always had a smile on his face and stole hearts of anyone who had met him and even those who just saw pictures. Though taken too soon he will never be forgotten and will live on in the hearts of family and through his dad. Adam McKinney was so excited to be a dad when he found out he and his wife were expecting. Dawson was his first child. He was a former Marine and was looking forward to teaching Dawson all the boy things in life but sometimes, life has other plans that we don’t see coming.”

Danielle Radue at arraignment
Danielle at her arraignment via video on May 18.
(ABC6)

As of this writing, the fundraiser has raised $8,660 of its $20,000 goal.

According to someone who knows the family, Danielle is alleged to have thrown the baby, fracturing his tiny skull. If the rumors going around Facebook are true, however, there may be compassion to be had for Danielle, who is said to have been suffering from some pretty severe postpartum depression or possibly postpartum psychosis. 

I refuse to entertain a single person’s “BUT I HAD PPD/PPP AND I DIDN’T KILL MY BABY” story, which are everywhere in the comment sections of the various articles being shared on Facebook. It’s great that your mental illness took one path, but that is not the case for everyone. Look at Andrea Yates, who was convicted of drowning her five children in Texas in 2001; she exemplifies postpartum psychosis, and she is horrified by her own actions. I’ve long taken a strong stance on that case as a resolute supporter of Andrea. Yes, it’s horrific that five children are dead as a result of what she did, but she cannot be held legally responsible because she did not know the difference between right and wrong. That story in itself is a rabbit-hole that I won’t get into (because I may never stop), but it does illustrate the dangers of ignoring or improperly treating postpartum disorders, which are no joke and can cause catastrophic harm.

Andrea and Rusty Yates and their children
The ill-fated Yates family.
(San Antonio Express News)

The only evidence to back up this possible explanation for Danielle’s actions is this comment thread on one of Adam’s Facebook posts made soon after Dawson was born.

Hows Momma doing Facebook post Adam McKinney
(Facebook)

That’s hardly enough to make a diagnosis, but it’s enough for me to say this: let’s wait and see what happens before we cast condemnation and vitriol on this woman, who may be suffering a severe mental illness brought on or exacerbated by her pregnancy and postnatal brain chemistry.

Remember, May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and it’s high time we kick stigma’s ass directly to the curb, not continue to shame people for suffering.

My sincere sympathies to Adam McKinney, his father Mike, and all of their family and friends who have been affected by the loss of this beautiful baby boy. Rest well, Dawson. 

  • Dawson Jace McKinney
  • Dawson Jace McKinney
  • Dawson Jace McKinney and two dogs
  • Dawson Jace McKinney
  • Dawson Jace McKinney
  • Mike McKinney and grandson Dawson
  • Dawson Jace McKinney
  • Dawson Jace McKinney
  • Dawson Jace McKinney
  • Dawson Jace McKinney
  • Dawson Jace McKinney
  • Dawson Jace McKinney
  • Dawson Jace McKinney
  • Dawson Jace McKinney
  • Dawson Jace McKinney
  • Dawson Jace McKinney
  • Dawson Jace McKinney
  • Dawson Jace McKinney

Sources: Idaho Press, GoFundMe, Idaho Statesman, KTVB 7, Facebook

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