Baby’s death still active case for West Fargo police
The investigation to find who killed Owen Skodje has continued longer than the 6-month-old’s short life, but police say it remains an active case.
Movement on the case is slow going now that lawyers are involved and questioning has to be coordinated among attorneys and two police departments, said West Fargo police detective Tim Runcorn.
“We’re still working on it,” Runcorn said. “It’s not considered cold yet. It’s just taking time.”
Owen, the son of Casey Skodje and Kristin Hunstad of Fargo, was found unresponsive at an unlicensed West Fargo day care about 1 p.m. June 1. He was taken to a Fargo hospital, then flown to the Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis where he died June 2.
The Minnesota medical examiner’s report, released in September, ruled Owen’s death a homicide and said the infant died as a result of complications from a head injury.
Runcorn declined to name any persons of interest in the case. He said investigators are just trying to eliminate anyone in Skodje’s life as potential suspects at this time.
“In a sense, we’ve focused on certain people,” he said. “The people we would like to speak with are using attorneys. We have to use our state’s attorney as well and it’s all dependent on the time frames of coordination.”
Runcorn said he expects to speak with the day care operator, Darcy Jo Anderson, through her attorney in the near future. In June, Anderson identified Fargo attorney Mark Western as her representative. Western did return voice mails seeking comment this week.
West Fargo police areleading the investigation but since Owen’s parents are Fargo residents, Fargo officers have assisted in the case and had primary contact with the couple, Runcorn said.
Anderson’s day care license was revoked in 2011 after multiple complaints alleged she was rough with children, smoked in the home and yelled at the children and a parent. She appealed the decision, but it was upheld by an administrative law judge in January 2012.
Cass County Social Services visited Anderson’s West Fargo home June 4 and found that Anderson was caring for eight children. North Dakota law allows for day care operators to care for up to five children, including their own, without a license. Under state law, an unlicensed provider who cares for more children than what is allowed can be charged with a Class B misdemeanor.
A Cass County Social Services licensing specialist, forwarded the June report to the Cass County State’s Attorney’s Office for possible charges and the case remains open at this time, according to the attorney’s office.
A search warrant for the day care filed in Cass County District Court in June by West Fargo police stated that the first physician to see Owen in Fargo said Owen’s brain injury appeared to have happened about the time of the 911 call that was made by Anderson’s 15-year-old daughter. Owen had been in Anderson’s care since early that morning, police said.
Search warrant records also showed that doctors found fractures in the infant’s skull – recent fractures and possibly an older one – and retinal hemorrhages and recent trauma.
The results of the final autopsy report will not be made public. After receiving the report, Runcorn said it had not pinpointed the time Owen was injured.
Medical Examiner Andrew Baker said infant and child cases are among the most complex autopsies to complete.
Owen’s parents have not responded to requests for comment.