A fugitive suspected of killing his 1-year-old child was reported at least three times to Hennepin County child protection for abusing the boy and his sibling, public records show.
Brooklyn Park police were called Tuesday night to the 2100 block of 74th Court N. on a report of the child not breathing, authorities said Wednesday. First responders and paramedics administered CPR at the residence, then rushed the boy to North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale, where he died.
Witnesses told police the child’s death was due to an assault. The boy’s father, Reggie Delanie Harper, 23, fled the residence before first responders arrived, police said.
Harper, who had not been charged as of Wednesday, was last seen wearing a white T-shirt with blue or purple writing and red/black checkered pants. Police are asking anyone who sees him or knows where he is to call 911.
Efforts to reach the boy’s mother were not successful Wednesday.
The boy is at least the 57th child to die since 2005 in Minnesota from maltreatment despite the family being known to child protection, the Star Tribune has found.
According to juvenile court records, in January 2012 Hennepin County child protection received a report accusing Harper of hitting the boy’s mother in the face while their then 3-week-old son was in the home. Harper was arrested on suspicion of assault. The county closed the case without providing child protection services, records say.
In May 2012, the county received another report again accusing Harper of assaulting his girlfriend, records show. During that incident, Harper allegedly scratched their baby’s arm, which Harper denied. The county found Harper and his girlfriend responsible for child abuse and neglect, according to the court records.
Out-of-state troubles followed
The family moved to Michigan, where in May 2013 that state’s child protection services received a report that Harper had hit his then 3-month-old baby boy “because he was upset with the infant’s continuous crying,” according to court records. A Michigan emergency room doctor who examined the baby said he had a “broken vessel of the eye, lacerations on his nose, a bruise on the buttocks and a bruise on the abdomen.” Harper was arrested and charged with assault and child abuse.
Harper’s girlfriend and their two children then moved back to Minnesota, prompting criminal charges against Harper to be dropped, according to records. Michigan reported the incident to Hennepin County, which investigated and found Harper had reunited with his girlfriend. Hennepin County filed a petition in June 2013 with juvenile court to have the children placed in foster care, which the court granted.
The children were returned to their mother’s custody in February after child protection deemed she had made “excellent progress” in complying with a case plan to keep her children safe, a report says. That same report said Harper “has not been active in working his case plan at all lately.”
The next month, Hennepin County recommended the case be closed, despite saying Harper “has not remained case plan compliant,” had missed appointments with child protection and the children’s guardian, and did not return their calls.
Janine Moore, area director for Hennepin County’s Children and Family Services, said she could not comment on the case on Wednesday.