Genesis Xiong was a "happy little girl ... just a normal baby," according to a family friend, Amy Thao, who now is seeking to raise money for the toddler's funeral.
Last Thursday, police found the girl, whose nickname was Gena, unresponsive in a Maplewood home. The next day, her mother's boyfriend, Leb Mike Meak, 35, of Maplewood, was charged with second-degree murder in the girl's death. The charges say Meak had told police he "roughed her up."
Meak, who is scheduled to appear in Ramsey County District Court on Tuesday, had been watching the toddler, who was living with him for the past 2-1/2 weeks, because his girlfriend worked a lot, he is alleged to have told police. Authorities say that he was not the girl's biological father.
According to the criminal complaint, authorities who responded to a call about a baby not breathing noticed a large number of black and purple bruises on her chest and stomach. The complaint also indicated that the toddler may have been sexually abused.
Thao, who now lives in California, said that she met the girl's mother through a friend many years ago, and that she and others knew Meak, too.
"But we never thought he was like this," she added.
The girl's mother is "taking it very hard," Thao said. To help with funeral expenses, Thao has set up an account at www.gofundme.com/mdgcz8. As of 7 p.m. Sunday, pledges had exceeded $900. The goal is $7,500. Thao said she did not have have information about services, but she expects they will be held in Minnesota.