Moments after harming a 16-month-old in her care by hanging the boy from a noose, a south Minneapolis day-care operator was acting erratically and admitted to a man dropping off his child that morning that she felt bad about something she had just done, according to court filings.

The father who was dropping off his child on Friday at the Uptown Daycare in the 2700 block of Humboldt Avenue S. immediately sensed that Nataliia Karia, 42, was not “acting right,” the man later told police.

The man, whose name wasn’t included in the court filings, said Karia told him that she had “done something bad,” Police Sgt. Charles Green wrote in a search warrant application released Monday.

The man told police he heard a baby crying from the basement and ran downstairs to find the child hanging from a noose, the search warrant read. The man grabbed the child and ran home, police said.

The warrant authorized police to obtain a blood sample from Karia to determine whether she was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the incident. The results of the toxicology report haven’t been released.

Karia hasn’t been charged, but police have identified her as the suspect in the case, which has attracted international attention. She was taken to Hennepin County Medical Center, where she remained “unresponsive,” Green wrote.

Client sympathizes

The boy, whose name was being withheld by authorities, was taken to a hospital for observation and was “doing fine,” Assistant Police Chief Kris Arneson said last week. She said the suspect is not the boy’s mother.

On Saturday, another of Karia’s clients said the provider has been “like a second mother to my son,” and what she did was “completely inconsistent with who I know her to be.”

Shannon Keough, 38, told the Star Tribune that she first started bringing her nearly 3-year-old son to Karia’s day care when he was about 10 months old. “I always trusted her completely and never had any reservations about dropping him off with her.”

Karia fled the scene in her minivan, first running over a man standing near his vehicle at 28th Street and Grand Avenue S. and then striking 29-year-old bicyclist Jacob Carrigan, of Minneapolis, at 28th Street and Park Avenue S., nearly 2 miles east of the day care, according to police.

The pedestrian was dragged a significant distance, police said, and suffered broken bones and scrapes. The bicyclist suffered a broken leg. Both were taken to Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC) and were expected to survive.

The man who was dragged had just gotten out of his car after being hit at a stoplight by a car behind him that Karia had struck while fleeing east on 28th, said the motorist in the middle of the chain-reaction crash.

“He got out to ask if I was OK,” said the 25-year-old woman, who lives in Uptown and asked that her name not be disclosed.

When the woman saw the van backing up after the collision, she said she thought, “Oh, my God, they’re going to try and leave the scene of an accident.”

The van then “went up the side of his car and then over him,” dragging him down the street and out of sight, she said. The pedestrian’s lawyer identified the man as 37-year-old Salvador Lema, a husband and father of four from Minneapolis.

Dragging victim recovering

Attorney Will Sutor said Monday afternoon that Lema is at HCMC and has been 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.

Lema was driving his 4-year-old daughter to school at the time of the crash and “had just exited his vehicle … making sure everybody was all right” when the van hit him “head-on, pushing him onto his back on the ground,” Sutor said.

As he was being dragged down the street, “he had the wherewithal to keep his head up,” the attorney added. “He still did sustain a traumatic brain injury.”

A third person, Nicole Thomas, 33, of Minneapolis, had left Wellstone International High School and was driving on Park Avenue toward downtown when her car was struck by the suspect’s van. She was released from a hospital after a few hours.

About 20 minutes later, Karia was seen on the Park Avenue overpass above Interstate 94, where she was threatening to jump onto the highway, Arneson said. Several passersby held her down until police could take her into custody. She was taken to HCMC for evaluation and remains in police custody.


Staff writer Aimee Blanchette contributed to this report.