Attempted murder charges were filed Tuesday against a south Minneapolis day-care provider who allegedly told a witness that she “couldn’t take it anymore” after trying to hang a 16-month-old toddler last week in the basement of her home.
A criminal complaint said Nataliia Karia, 42, attempted to hang the boy at the day-care center she operated out of her home in the 2700 block of Humboldt Avenue S., using two pairs of children’s tights fashioned into a noose.
A man who was dropping off his child rescued the toddler and called his wife, who contacted police.
Karia, who fled in her minivan, striking and seriously injuring two people, was later arrested after she tried to jump from a highway overpass.
She remains under police custody at Hennepin County Medical Center and is charged with second-degree attempted murder, third-degree assault of a minor under the age of 4, and two counts of criminal vehicular operation.
The toddler was treated at the pediatric intensive care unit at HCMC and was “doing fine,” Assistant Police Chief Kris Arneson said last week. The child was not Karia’s, Arneson said.
The incident, which attracted international attention, began Friday morning when one of Karia’s clients was dropping off his 3-year-old child with the woman, who told him that she “couldn’t take it anymore,” the complaint read, before asking him to “look at what she did.”
Alarmed, the man rushed past Karia when he heard the cries of a child coming from the basement.
The complaint said that he found the young boy hanging from a noose attached to an overhead pipe, with ligature marks around his neck and his face discolored. The man pulled the boy down and carried him out of the house to safety, according to prosecutors.
In the meantime, Karia got in her van and fled the scene, sparking a sequence of events that ended with her striking three people — two of whom were seriously injured — and then threatening to jump onto Interstate 94, according to prosecutors.
She first ran over a man who had gotten out of his car at the intersection of W. 28th Street and Grand Avenue S. to inspect the damage after the car behind his slammed into him when Karia rear-ended it, the complaint said. The pedestrian, identified by his attorney as 37-year-old Salvador Lema, was dragged for about 10 blocks and suffered a broken ankle and ribs and scrapes, according to police. Lema, a husband and father of four from Minneapolis, was at HCMC and was upgraded from critical to serious condition from burns inflicted on his back while being dragged and still more burns to the front of his body from the heat off the van.
Police said Karia later ran a red light and struck 29-year-old bicyclist Jacob Carrigan of Minneapolis, at E. 28th Street and Park Avenue S., nearly 2 miles east of the day care. Carrigan suffered broken bones and had to have a rod surgically implanted into his leg, the complaint said.
Karia later struck another car driven by a pregnant woman before pulling over near the Park Avenue overpass above I-94, where she was threatening to jump onto the highway, police said. Several passersby held her down until police could take her into custody.
On Tuesday, Hennepin County Mike Freeman declined through a spokesman to comment on the case.
In the days since, several of Karia’s clients came out publicly to say that they had entrusted their children to her for years and that the allegations were totally out of character for her.