abc
QUICK LINKS:

Virginia Police: Murder Charge for Death of Child

Updated: 08/29/2014 10:36 PM
Created: 08/29/2014 9:14 AM WDIO.com

Authorities have arrested a 26-year-old Hibbing man in connection with the 2012 death of his former girlfriend's two-year-old daughter.

Russell Shannon Johnson now faces a second degree murder charge.

Caroline Shenze Marie Medicine-Chavez died a few days after an incident in Virginia in March 2012.  Authorities said the cause of death was head trauma.

According to the criminal complaint, Johnson was alone with the girl at the time. He had been dating the girl's mother. He told police that Caroline fell and hit her head.

The Virginia Police Department and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension started an extensive investigation, which they say became very complex and time consuming.

"We had our suspicions about Johnson, but we would have had a difficult time proving it in court," explained Chief Dennis Benz. "We never gave up though."

The case was stalled until authorities received some additional information in July of this year.

The St Louis County Attorney’s Office says a woman told investigators she had a conversation about the girl's death with Johnson.  The woman said Johnson told her he was "cranky" on the day of the incident and that the girl was a "really whiny kid." He allegedly said he pushed the girl and she flew into a wall and hit her head.

After reviewing new interviews in the case, medical examiner Dr. Thomas Uncini determined that the manner of death was homicide.

Caroline's father told us on Friday that he is happy that the case has gotten to this point.

The authorities credit the family for pushing so hard to get justice for Caroline. There was even a Facebook page dedicated to her.

"I think that Caroline's family is very strong," said Chief Benz.

A check of court records shows a handful of crimes on Johnson's record, but nothing that rises to the level of a felony. However, he did fail to appear in court in Duluth earlier in August, and there was a warrant out for his arrest.

He was arrested, according to police, on Thursday near his parents home in Hibbing.

His public defender said his client maintains he is innocent. Johnson's next court appearance is September 15th.

The complaint said that Caroline was admitted to the emergency room just a few weeks before her death, because Johnson said she fell and hit her head. Also, in December, her mother noticed a bump on her head. Johnson told the mother Caroline had fallen off of a table.

St. Louis County Social Services opened a file on Caroline, but not until her death.
 

Russell Shannon Johnson

Front Page

  • 19th Annual Sobriety Run Underway in Minnesota

    The 19th Annual Sobriety Run kicked off on Wednesday at the Red Lake Reservation with a community 5 mile walk. The third of a four day relay style race began in Grand Rapids and ends nearly 40 miles later in Floodwood. The four-day run comes to an end at the Mashkawisen Treatment Center in Sawyer on Saturday where nearly 1,500 community members will be coming together to celebrate sobriety.

  • Superior Sands Holds 1st King and Queen Volleyball Tournament

    Superior Sands put on its first King and Queen of the Beach volleyball tournament Friday night. Fifteen men and five women paricipated in the round robin tournament, with four players advancing to the final round.

  • UMD Program Puts on 'Science on Deck' Events

    UMD scientists and staff brought people on board the Blue Heron research vessel at the Great Lakes Aquarium Friday afternoon in Duluth for an educational tour.

  • Lt. Pete Goman said texting and driving has become an Texting and Driving Fines Raised for Repeat Offenders

    Repeat texting and driving offenders will have to shell out an additional $225 on top of the original $50 fine beginning Saturday. In 2014, distracted driving contributed to 61 deaths and more than 7,000 injuries. 

  • Missing Grand Rapids Girl Found Safe

    The 15-year-old girl who was reported missing Friday has been found and is safe. The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension said in a statement issued Saturday morning that the girl was found Friday night in Itasca County.

 
Advertisement