A 38-year-old man was charged Wednesday in connection with the drowning of a 2-year-old girl who was found in the bloodied basement of the family’s Bemidji home with injuries on her body, according to court documents.
Nathan Daniel Jackson Sr. told police that Kira Friedman, one of two foster children living in the tribal-licensed home, needed a shower about 7:30 a.m. Sunday after she soiled herself. He then left her unattended in a shower, which had an 18-gallon plastic bin in it.
He returned to find the girl in the bin, which was filled with water, the second-degree manslaughter charges cite him as saying.
The home was not licensed as a foster care provider by the state Department of Human Services (DHS), but instead through the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, which is based in Cass Lake, said DHS spokeswoman Karen Smigielski.
Part of the band’s mission, it explains on its website, is to seek “extended family members or other Native Families to care for children who need to be placed out of the home.”
Criminal background checks are part of the screening of families, according to the band’s website. Jackson’s criminal history in Minnesota includes convictions for property damage, disorderly conduct, assault, drunken driving and two convictions for theft.
Band officials did not return calls for comment Thursday about the history of Jackson and his fiancée, Amanda White, as foster care providers.
On the same day that Jackson was charged, county officials petitioned the court to terminate the parental rights of Jackson and White, who lives with him and their five children, ages 1 to 13.
The county said in its petition that it believes that the children are “in need of protection … and would be concerned for their safety if they were returned to the care” of Jackson and White at this time.
The petition noted five times, from April 2013 to June 2015, when county Health and Human Services officials addressed concerns with the family’s care of the foster children.
Three involved neglect, with all ruled unsubstantiated. The other two involved mental health assessments for one of their children.
Jackson on Wednesday provided to police a urine sample, which will be tested for methamphetamine abuse, one of the affidavits read. A child protection investigator was told Jackson was using meth and other illicit drugs. In the meantime, Jackson remains jailed in lieu of $100,000 bail.
Jackson acknowledged to a detective that he had a drug problem, the court document continued, and some of the children in the home told authorities that lately he had been having trouble sleeping at night.
Blood found in home
Jackson told police that the girl “did not seem normal” after he found her in the bin but that she was awake and breathing, the charging document continued. He dressed her and laid her in her bed, according to the criminal complaint.
Police were called to the home in the 700 block of Lake Avenue SE. about 11:30 a.m. on a report that the girl was unresponsive. They found the child on her back in a toddler bed, the complaint said.
She was cold to the touch, according to search warrant affidavits filed in Beltrami County District Court by police. The documents noted bruises and superficial cuts on Kira’s body.
The affidavits also mentioned blood detected on a wall near the shower and on the front of the washer and dryer.
White told police that she had put Kira to bed at 9:30 the previous night. She said one of her children woke her up the next day to tell her the girl was not breathing.
White told police they typically bathed the toddler in a bathtub. She said the toddler was “nonverbal” and had just learned to walk eight days before her birthday on April 21 in Duluth.
In keeping with Kira’s American Indian tradition, a through-the-night visitation was scheduled for her starting Thursday night at the Fond du Lac Head Start gymnasium in Cloquet and continuing until 10 a.m. Friday, when a traditional service begins. Along with her birth parents, Kira is survived by a sister and two brothers.