Father charged with Fridley infant's death in March

The father who brought his unconscious infant to the Fridley Police Department seeking help is now charged in the child's death.

Aaron Rathke, 23, is charged with second-degree murder for the death in March 2023. The charges come after an autopsy ruled the death a homicide last month.

The investigation was launched on the night of the baby's death on March 1, 2023. Police said Rathke had brought the child to the Fridley Police Department seeking help. Officers attempted to revive the infant, who was rushed to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Later, when speaking with police, the charges state that Rathke admitted the child had stopped breathing earlier in the day, around 11 a.m., but was revived by the child's mother. The couple didn't seek help until around 7 p.m. when the infant passed out again and Rathke was unable to revive him.

When asked why they hadn't called 911 or taken the child to the emergency room instead of a police station, Rathke didn't have any solid reasoning. The charges state he claimed he didn't call an ambulance because he lives in a "pretty quiet neighborhood" and didn't want to create a spectacle. He said they didn't take the child to Unity Hospital, which is near their home, because he thought they would transport the baby to Children's Minnesota. The charges don't elaborate on why he didn't want that to happen.

In the charges, investigators say Rathke admitted that the child's chest felt "indented" but claimed the child had never been injured. Investigators say he also admitted to suffering from bipolar disorder and claimed to have "outbursts" where he would black out. But, to investigators, Rathke said that had never had an outburst with the child, though he admitted that the child would sometimes struggle to sleep.

In early June, the mother sent concerning messages to family members, alleging that Rathke had "killed the baby" and also saying he had suffocated the child and pressed on his chest to revive the boy.

In September, an autopsy determined that the infant had died from multiple blunt-force injuries. Days later, investigators spoke with the mother again, who said she had been scared to speak with deputies before because Rathke was abusive, the charges allege. According to the charges, the mother told investigators Rathke would put the baby to sleep by putting pressure on his throat, causing him to pass out.

Investigators also spoke with another former partner of Rathke's, who had a seven-year-old child with him. The former partner told investigators that Rathke had been abusive to her during their relationship. According to the charges, she also said their child had a history of seizures that stopped when the child stopped staying overnight with Rathke.

Rathke is being held in the Anoka County Jail.