Maplewood police are investigating the death of an 18-month-old baby girl as a homicide and have arrested her mother's boyfriend.
Police were called to a home on the 2500 block of Barclay Street on report of a baby not breathing late Thursday morning. Responders were led to a basement bedroom where she was found unresponsive. She was pronounced dead at the scene. Paramedics and police noticed a number of bruises on her body and face.
Two men were in the home with her at the time, and were brought to the Maplewood Police Department for questioning. The girl's mother's boyfriend, Leb Mike Meak, 35, was arrested on suspicion of homicide and booked into the Ramsey County Jail. Meak is not the child's biological father and he and his girlfriend do not live together, police said. The other man, whose identity has not been released, was questioned and free to go.
Maplewood police and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Investigation are actively investigating the death. The child's name is being withheld pending notification of next of kin.
"Even while investigators work to determine exactly what happened to this little girl, no answer will mask the tragedy of her death," said Maplewood Police Chief Paul Schnell in a news release. "Few crimes are more disturbing than the death of child at the hands of a caregiver."
Mother's boyfriend charged with second-degree murder
Meak was charged Friday with second-degree murder in connection with the beating of the 18-month-old girl under his care at the home in Maplewood.
"This young child suffered unspeakable horror in the last moments of her short life," Ramsey County Attorney John Choi said. "This is an especially heinous crime, and we will seek justice for the family as well as the entire community."
During interviews, Meak said he was caring for his girlfriend's daughter at the Maplewood residence and that he "roughed her up a bit" while changing her diaper, while also admitting to shaking the girl a few times.
Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension Crime Scene investigators located the presence of semen on the genital area of the child, a fact that the defendant did not directly refute.
He will be making his first appearance in Ramsey District Court on Feb. 17 at 1:30 p.m. Prosecutors will ask for a bail of $1,500,000.