A man from Milwaukee jailed and charged with fatally shooting his girlfriend last year has now been charged with killing the couple’s 2-year-old daughter.
Dariaz Higgins, 35, was charged Thursday with unintentional second-degree murder in connection with the death of Noelani Robinson, whose body was found March 15, 2019 wrapped in a blanket in a southern Minnesota highway ditch.
Higgins told authorities that the toddler had fallen off a toilet while the two of them were staying at a motel in Austin, Minn. and subsequently died. But an autopsy determined that the girl died of multiple blunt force injuries to the head and “did not match the defendant’s version of events,” according to charges filed Thursday in Mower County.
Higgins and the toddler had stayed at the Rodeway Inn in Austin from Feb. 6 to about March 10. Higgins told investigators that after the toddler fell that he wrapped the girl in blankets and left her on a motel room floor “for a couple of days” while he went back to Milwaukee to get a vehicle, the charges said.
He returned to Austin and in the early hours of March 10 and put Noelani’s body into the vehicle he was driving. As he and a female passenger made their way toward Minneapolis in blizzard conditions, Higgins stopped and placed the body in a ditch. Higgins knew the girl had been dead and “could not travel with her,” the complaint said.
An autopsy determined that Noelani Robinson suffered blunt force injuries to her head and brain hemorrhages along with blunt force injuries to her extremities, the charges said.
After dumping the girl’s body, Higgins apparently returned to Milwaukee to meet with the girl’s mother, Sierra Robinson.
Sierra Robinson, 24, had been staying in Las Vegas after she and Higgins split up. She had left Noelani with Higgins and returned to Milwaukee on March 9 in an effort to get her back. Two days later, Higgins brought Robinson to an apartment where he claimed the girl was staying. He fatally shot Robinson in the chest. A second friend who was shot survived. Higgins was arrested, but there was no sign of the 2-year-old.
The girl’s body was found five days later by a passerby at the intersection of Hwys. 30 and 218 near Blooming Prairie, Minn.
Higgins remained jailed in Milwaukee County Jail. Bail has been set at $1 million.