As he had done often in the past, Cory Morris cared for his 4-month-old daughter, Emersyn Morris, when the baby's mother left for work Saturday morning.
But throughout the day, he did not respond to text messages from Jenny Andersen, his girlfriend and Emersyn's mother. At 4:45 p.m., they finally connected by phone.
He was going to jail, he told her, because he had done something to their baby.
At some point during that day, murder charges say, Morris snapped and punched Emersyn nearly two dozen times as she lay on her bedroom changing table. After he called Andersen and his mother to tell them what happened, they told him to call 911. Despite paramedics' efforts, she died at Hennepin County Medical Center from blunt force trauma.
Morris, 21, was charged Tuesday with second-degree intentional murder in the baby's violent death.
"This is beyond comprehension," Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said at a news conference announcing the charges.
Family members say that although they'd long been trying to get Morris psychological help, he never showed violent tendencies, and it was typical for him to watch the baby on his own. After police arrived and spoke with Morris, Freeman said, the father expressed no remorse. He would later tell law enforcement that he was schizophrenic and heard voices.
Freeman said a full psychological evaluation would be completed on Morris, but his depiction of his state of mind has since changed.
"There's all sorts of different stories from him," he said.
Morris went to see a therapist as recently as last Thursday in an attempt to get him help for what his mother, Ginny Morris, said was severe depression and mental illness.
For at least a year Morris' family has been trying to get him help, his mother said. Psychological providers told them there were no beds available for him. Other times, she said, "he pushed us away."
But she said her son, who was raised in Oakdale, was never a violent person. His Facebook page shows a life of a normal young adult; recent photos show a baby-faced young man posing with his sister as tropical birds climb on their arms during a vacation in Florida.
"We never thought he would hurt the baby. We would never allow him to be with the baby if that was the case," Ginny Morris said. "We were worried he was going to hurt himself, not the baby."
In a Facebook posting on Monday, Andersen said she left Emersyn in Morris' care "like normal.
"I was at work and he took her life," she wrote. "There are no words to describe the immense hurt I'm going through right now. Emersyn was my whole entire world & now she's gone."
Andersen declined to comment.
According to the criminal charge, Morris later told police that sometime during that day his daughter started making what he described as "baby talk" while he was watching TV. He took the girl out of her swing, carried her into her bedroom and placed her on the changing table.
Emersyn "continued making noises and he hit her to quiet her," according to the criminal charge. By the time medics arrived, Emersyn was unconscious. Morris was covered in blood and his right hand was swollen.
Morris was arrested that evening at the duplex where the family lives, just east of downtown Minneapolis. He remains jailed in lieu of $2 million bail; his first court appearance is scheduled for Wednesday afternoon.
On Monday, Andersen updated her Facebook page with a photo of Emersyn lying on her stomach in pink pajamas, eyes wide as she took in the camera.
"My heart is absolutely shattered," Andersen wrote. "The only comfort I have at all is knowing she's safe with Jesus now. Mama loves you so much my sweet, sweet girl, I will miss you and love you forever & ever," she wrote.
Brandon Stahl • 612-673-4626 Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482