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Toddler found dead in Bemidji had bruises; man charged in death suspected of drug use

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BEMIDJI, Minn.--Court documents show that a 2-year-old foster child found dead Sunday in a Bemidji home had several areas of bruising and superficial lacerations around her head and body and a red or pink fluid draining from her nose.

Police suspect the Bemidji man charged with second-degree manslaughter in connection with the child's death was using drugs, according to the documents.

Kira Friedman, 2, was found dead at about 11:30 a.m. Sunday. Friedman was left unattended in a shower and apparently drowned in a laundry tote, according to a criminal complaint.

Nathan Daniel Jackson Search warrant affidavits say Nathan Jackson, 38 -- who was arrested Sunday after police were called to his residence after receiving a report of an unresponsive child -- told police he had had past problems with drugs.

A Beltrami County Child Protection Investigator also told police that she had spoken with Jackson's fiancee, as well as his fiancee's sister, and that both were concerned Jackson was using methamphetamines or other drugs, according to the warrant. Children who live with Jackson also told interviewers at the Family Advocacy of Northern Minnesota that Jackson had lately not been sleeping at night, which was unusual.

Jackson had been living with his fiancee, Amanda White, their five children and two foster children, including Friedman, in the house.

The home was licensed as a foster care provider through the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, rather than the Minnesota Department of Human Services, according to DHS spokesperson Karen Smigielski.

A search warrant filed Sunday, as well as one filed Tuesday, provided more details about the scene where the child was found. The first officer to arrive on the scene at about 11:21 a.m. found the 2-year-old unresponsive and cold to the touch. Rigor mortis had set in.

As well as the bruising and lacerations observed on the child, officers noted a red substance on the wall of the bathroom presumed to be blood.

Jackson told police he had put Friedman in the shower at about 7:30 a.m. Sunday and left her unattended while he made toast. He also left an 18-gallon Rubbermaid tote without holes in the shower with the 2-year-old, who was nonverbal and had learned to walk shortly before her second birthday in April. According to the criminal complaint, Jackson returned to the bathroom to check on the child and found her in the bin, which was filled with water.

White said they typically bathe Friedman in the bathtub upstairs, according to the criminal complaint.

After finding Friedman, Jackson said she didn't "seem right," but that she was breathing. He dressed her and put her to bed. According to the search warrant, Jackson told police he believed the child smiled at him when he laid her down. He then went back to sleep. When White checked on Friedman she found her unresponsive and told another party to call 911.

An investigator said in the search warrant affidavit that White told dispatch she could not move Friedman's head to start CPR.

Jackson is being held in the Beltrami County Jail and his next court appearance is set for June 20. Each count of second-degree manslaughter carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, a fine of $20,000 or both.

Grace Pastoor

Grace Pastoor covers crime, courts and social issues for the Bemidji Pioneer. Contact her at (218) 333-9796 or gpastoor@bemidjipioneer.com

(218) 333-9796
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