A Bemidji man pleaded guilty Tuesday to murdering his girlfriend and kidnapping and raping a 5-year-old girl who had been in the woman’s care.
Jacob W. Kinn, 33, admitted to second-degree murder, first-degree criminal sexual conduct and kidnapping in connection with the crimes in June 2016.
Prosecutors say they’ll seek a sentence that could last more than 50 years, with the first two-thirds served in prison and the balance on supervised release. In the meantime, Kinn remains in the Beltrami County jail ahead of sentencing on June 26.
The woman, 35-year-old Melissa Norby, was a friend of the child’s mother and was taking care of the girl, whom investigators later found safe in a secluded camper.
Prosecutors alleged that Kinn strangled his girlfriend and then took the girl from Norby’s Bemidji house, bound her hands and legs, covered her mouth with duct tape, then brought her to his home north of Bemidji before moving her to a camper near Big Fork, about 70 miles away. At some point, Kinn set Norby’s home ablaze with her still inside.
Police found the girl about 26 hours after the fire — still bound with the tape — without food, water or access to a bathroom, the prosecution said.
One of numerous search warrant affidavits filed in the case pointed to texts between Kinn and Norby revealing that the two “had apparently been attempting to acquire the child for the purpose of sexually assaulting her.”
Also stored on Kinn’s cellphone were photos of child pornography and videos of children “engaging in sexual contact with adults,” according to the search warrant affidavit.
Kinn was sentenced in Beltrami County in 2013 for possessing child pornography. His conviction in that case put him on probation for five years.