Well, if that isn’t the saddest and most infuriating headline.
On Thursday, April 23, 35-year-old Kellie Jo Anderson of Barnesville, Minnesota scurried into the emergency department at Sanford Medical Center in Fargo, North Dakota, carrying her 18-month-old foster son, Henry Thomas Anderson, who was described in a criminal complaint as “blue and lifeless with bruising to the face and head.”
Kellie told first medical staff and, later, law enforcement that because Henry had a low-grade fever of 99.8 degrees Fahrenheit that morning, she had kept him home from daycare that morning. She said Henry was teething and she could tell he didn’t feel well.
A doctor discovered that upon his arrival in the emergency room, Henry had fixed, dilated pupils, which does not normally occur until ten minutes after death. Also, the doctor measured Henry’s core body temperature, which was 82 degrees. This means that Henry had likely been dead for about 40 minutes.
Coincidentally or not, that is just about how long it would take someone to drive from the Anderson home in Barnesville to Sanford Hospital in Fargo.
The doctor also had concerns that Henry’s multiple injuries were not consistent with Kellie’s story.
Based on the concerns of medical staff, the Barnesville Police Department and the Clay County Sheriffs were summoned to the hospital to investigate a report of child neglect. They observed multiple injuries on the child, including several bruises on his back and side, a bump on the back of his head, a cut on the inside of his lip, and numerous bruises and marks on his face and head, in addition to a deep laceration to his penis. (What is with people going after these babies’ genitals?!)
Kellie told investigators that Henry had a habit of self-injuring, describing the 18-month-old child throwing himself around and feeling no pain. She said that around noon on the day of the incident, she gave Henry a bath “to make him feel good,” and during that time, Henry “threw himself several times from the bath to the toilet,” causing injuries to his own mouth. She also told them she believed Henry had suffered a seizure either in the bathtub or shortly after she took him out. That, she explained, is why she took him to the emergency room.
She told them that while she dropped her daughter off at daycare “across the street,” she left Henry at home alone but listened on a baby monitor the whole time.
On the ride to the hospital, Kellie told police, she could hear Henry in his car seat, “babbling,” and his breathing sounded labored. A couple blocks from the hospital, she said, he stopped babbling, so she pulled over and was initially unable to find a pulse. Just when she was about to begin performing CPR on the baby, she noticed a faint pulse, so she hopped back in the driver’s seat and proceeded to the emergency room.
But… the doctor believed Henry had been dead for 40 minutes before arriving at the hospital, so it would seem either the medical professional was mistaken, or Kellie was full of shit.
Officers then interviewed Kyle Anderson, who had been at work when Henry entered the hospital. Kyle told them he had last seen Henry, who is his biological cousin, the night before. Kyle said that on Wednesday, he played with the kids, meaning the couple’s biological daughter and Henry, for a while before retreating to the garage to do some woodworking, which, he said, upset Kellie. At around 7:30 or 8:00, Kyle said, he gave Henry a bath, because Kellie had a hard time with the task.
Interesting, then, that Kellie would claim to have given the baby a bath the next morning, huh?
When investigators asked, Kyle told them he had never witnessed Henry throwing himself around the way his wife described and that the little boy had never had a seizure before.
Police, armed with a search warrant, spent over 12 hours combing the Anderson home for evidence. Nary a single baby monitor was located on the property, which means Kellie’s story about keeping an electronic eye on the baby while she dropped her daughter off at daycare was horseshit.
Kyle and Kellie had become foster parents solely for the purpose of caring for Henry, who they had planned to adopt this summer. The little boy had been in their care since April of 2019, when he was about 6 months old.
Kellie admitted to investigators that she and Kyle had discussed calling off their planned adoption of Henry, and that Kyle had threatened to divorce her, as she was the only one who wanted to adopt the little guy.
Kellie was arrested on Thursday on a charge of felony criminal neglect and booked into the Cass County Jail in North Dakota.
Tragically, Henry, who was born in October of 2018, died as a result of his injuries on April 23, 2020.
The baby’s body was transported to the Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s Office, where a preliminary autopsy was performed. The autopsy confirmed investigators’ findings, listing injuries to the baby’s head, face, arms, chest, back, legs, hand, foot, and penis, as well as internal injuries. Henry’s manner of death was determined to be homicide, likely caused by asphyxia associated with blunt force trauma. This is just speculation on my part, but since there were no neck injuries listed, I have to wonder — did she stand or kneel on his back? The thought alone sends chills down my spine.
Did I mention that Kellie is a registered nurse who works in hospice care? Maybe she forgot that whole “do no harm” thing.
On Monday, April 27, official charges were filed in Clay County District Court, and Kellie now faces a charge of second-degree murder with intent. If convicted, she could spend up to 40 years in prison.
On Tuesday, April 28, she was extradited back to Minnesota, where she was booked into the Clay County Jail around noon.
The Minnesota Department of Human Services, saying that the health and safety of children in Kellie’s care “are in imminent risk of harm,” suspended the Andersons’ foster care license effective Saturday, April 25. Nothing like shutting the barn door after the horse has already escaped!
Kyle Anderson has not been charged in connection with Henry’s death.
The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension assisted the Barnesville Police Department and the Clay County Sheriff’s Office with the investigation.
Kellie’s family blew up tiny portions of the internet last week with attempts to salvage Kellie’s name, which was being dragged hard in the comments sections of various news articles about the case posted on Facebook. On one of Kellie’s own photo posts, there was a back and forth between Kellie’s uncle, Steve Smedsrud, and some commenters, including members of Henry’s biological family, among others. Steve’s comments leaned very heavily in the direction of victim blaming, even implying with one comment that Henry — reminder: a year and a half old — was “fuck’d in the head.”
Kellie’s mother, Angie Smedsrud, claimed Henry’s biological mother lost custody of him due to a meth addiction, which she implied had caused mental or behavioral problems in the baby. She, too, spent a lot of time and effort blaming the victim for causing his own injuries and spouting off about what a great mother Kellie is. As we’ve seen in the past, being a great mother to one child doesn’t preclude the abuse (even a single, cataclysmic incident) of another child.
“Henry was taken to the hospital because he didn’t look well,” Angie explained on one comment thread, downplaying the injuries Henry suffered to a ridiculous degree. “Kellie was arrested at the hospital after Henry’s death.”
One woman mentioned in the comments on a Valley News Live post that she was with her daughter in the PICU at Sanford Hospital when Henry was admitted and that she saw the baby’s injuries in person. “He looked like someone tried to beat him to death,” the woman said. “I’ll never forget it.”
Yeah, it definitely sounds to me like that baby “didn’t look well.”
Other commenters made a valid point when they brought up Kellie’s seemingly incongruous statements that Henry (1) didn’t feel pain, and (2) didn’t feel well on the morning of April 23. So which is it?
One individual claimed to have reported Kellie in the past for child abuse, which could mean this alleged attack on Henry was not an isolated incident.
It will be interesting to see how this one plays out. I can’t imagine that any prosecutor or jury worth their salt would believe that an 18-month-old baby could self-inflict the damage Henry suffered. Even throwing himself around the bathroom like a scene from The Exorcist wouldn’t explain the deep laceration on his penis. I’d love to know how Kellie explained that one to the police.
Click here for my ongoing coverage of Henry’s case.
Rest well, little guy. You deserved so much better.
Author’s note: Identifying information about the biological family has been removed.
Sources: Valley News Live, Bring Me the News, KFGO, Facebook, Clay County Minnesota Inmate Roster, Inforum, The Brainerd Dispatch