A former White Bear Lake man has been charged with murder for allegedly smothering his girlfriend’s infant daughter to death last year.
Austin B. Gustafson, 27, was charged in Ramsey County District Court on Tuesday with second-degree murder without intent.
The infant, who was about 3 months old, was found unresponsive at a White Bear Lake apartment on April 30, 2014. She was resuscitated and taken to Children’s Hospital in St. Paul, where she died on May 4.
Court documents show that the infant suffered several injuries that indicated ongoing child abuse.
According to the complaint: Police responded to Gustafson’s apartment about 9:38 a.m. on April 30 after he called 911. The infant was lying on the living room floor, her mouth and eyes closed, her skin pale and her fingers blue. She was not breathing and had no pulse.
EMS personnel restored the baby’s pulse and transported her to the hospital, where she was on life support until she died a few days later.
At the apartment, Gustafson allegedly told police that he woke up at 9:30 a.m. and found the baby in her crib not breathing. The baby normally woke up at 8 a.m. “screaming,” he allegedly said.
Gustafson said that the baby was “always screaming” and “colicky,” and cried a lot the previous night. He said he last saw the baby awake at 11:30 p.m. the previous night.
The baby’s mother was contacted by police and arrived home while Gustafson was being questioned. She told police that she put the baby in a swing before she left for work about 7:20 a.m., and that the child had been fussy for weeks.
An autopsy showed that the baby died of a brain injury caused by deprivation of oxygen to her brain, findings consistent with being smothered. She also suffered multiple rib fractures, bruises on her back and buttocks and hemorrhages on her head.
Gustafson became the child’s primary daytime caregiver starting April 9, the complaint said.
He was charged via arrest warrant and is at large. Authorities ask anyone with information about his whereabouts to call 911 or White Bear Lake police at 651-429-8511.