Affidavit details case against mother charged in West Melbourne 3-year-old’s death

Child referred to as ‘jerk’ in texts between mother, man accused of abusing boy to death, records show

WEST MELBOURNE, Fla. – Newly released court documents detail the case police developed against the mother of 3-year-old Jameson Nance, who officers believe was abused to death by Joshua Manns.

Erica Dotson, 27, was arrested Tuesday by West Melbourne police.

Jameson Nance. (Copyright 2021 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.)

Dotson, who is a certified nurse’s aide at a hospital, left her child in the care of Manns on June 11 while she went to work, records show. As she was leaving work, Manns called her to tell her not to drive and that Jameson had died.

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Investigators said that at the time of that phone call, the boy had already been dead for several hours and that Manns had left the area. A medical examiner later determined that the boy had suffered abuse — including bruising, a broken rib and stab wounds to his scalp — for two to three weeks leading up to his death.

Police believe that Dotson knew the abuse was taking place and did nothing to protect the child. The affidavit included texts between Dotson and Manns about the 3-year-old.

The text exchanges included phrases like “F’him.” as well as “he’s being a jerk” and “sorry he’s being suck (sic) a (expletive)” when referring to the victim.

Investigators said they believed that Dotson and Manns had discussed stories about how to explain certain injuries, however, officers said their statements and the evidence from text exchanges do not line up.

Records show Dotson claimed Jameson fell while running when his leg was broken in 2019 and then in March, when he suffered another broken leg, she said he stepped off a curb. Police said workers at Jameson’s day care become suspicious of all the injuries.

The Department of Children and Families was contacted about Jameson’s injuries. He stopped attending the day care on June 2 and on that last day, he arrived with an injury to his face that Dotson claimed was from being attacked by a duck, according to authorities.

A search of her phone also revealed her internet search history which showed searches for phrases like “hematoma on scalp,” “toddler loose tooth after fall,” “duck florida red neck,” “three year old constantly injuring himself” and “children in foster care being abused.”

Joshua Andrew Manns, 25 (Copyright 2021 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.)

Dotson faces charges of first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse and aggravated manslaughter. Manns was taken into custody last month and faces charges of first-degree premeditated murder, aggravated child abuse and child neglect with great bodily harm.

Dotson is a certified nursing assistant at Health First. A spokesperson for the health care provider said Dotson’s employment as a hospital CNA has been suspended.

“Health First is deeply saddened by the senseless and tragic death of Jameson Nance,” Health First spokesman Lance Skelly said in a statement. “The Center for Child Development is committed to providing a safe learning environment, as well as the support, training, and education for the children’s development. Erica Dotson’s employment as a hospital CNA has been suspended, and we are diligently working with local authorities to assist in the investigation.”

About the Author:

Thomas Mates is a digital storyteller for News 6 and He also produces the podcast Florida Foodie. Thomas is originally from Northeastern Pennsylvania and worked in Portland, Oregon before moving to Central Florida in August 2018. He graduated from Temple University with a degree in Journalism in 2010.