NORTH ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) - A North St. Paul woman is charged with second degree manslaughter after a six-month-old baby strangled herself to death in a car seat at the woman’s unlicensed day care, according to a Ramsey County criminal complaint.
43-year-old Amy Jo Englebretson faces 10 years behind bars and a $20,000 fine.
Around 11 a.m. on Aug. 8, police responded to a call of an infant not breathing in in 2300 block of South Avenue in North St. Paul, according to the criminal complaint.
When police arrived, Englebretson was “visibly distraught” and the baby was pale and cold to the touch. Officers performed CPR, but the six-month-old later passed away at the hospital.
Englebretson told police at about two hours earlier, she put the baby in her car seat for a nap and placed the car seat on the bed in the bedroom. A little while later when she went back into the room, she noticed the baby was still sleeping. When she went to check on the baby again, she saw the baby had “scooted down” and the baby “got strangled up” with a strap around her neck. Englebretson then brought the baby into the living room, started CPR and called 911.
When police asked about the car seat strap, Englebretson said, “I didn’t do it right, it was too loose.” She told officers the baby “squiggled her way down where she got the thing around her neck, the strap.”
Police noted the car seat had a clear strangulation warning and a label saying never to put the seat on soft surfaces, like beds.
That day, the Englebretson was taking care of 10 children by herself. All of the children were younger than seven years old. In addition to the six-month-old girl, Englebretson was also taking care of two six-year-olds, a 46-month-old, a 45-month-old, a 32-month-old, a 22-month-old, a 17-month-old and two 16-month-olds.
Englebretson told police she was not licensed currently in childcare, but was on a waiting list for Ramsey County. Further investigation revealed she hadn’t applied for a license in Minnesota and there wasn’t a waiting list for the application process.
Englebretson had been licensed in childcare in two counties in Wisconsin, but she had never been licensed to care for more than six children at a time. In Wisconsin, she also received at least six violations for not following age and amount of children restrictions.
Parents of other children in the daycare told police they responded to her ad on Craig’s List and believed she was in the process of getting her license. They also thought Englebretson would only be taking care of four to six children.
The mother of the victim said she thought her baby would sleep in a portable crib in the living room, not in a car seat on a bed in another room.
According to medical records, the baby’s cause of death was strangulation with cardiac arrest. The records also noted strap marks on the infant.