This was an unexpected headline to wake up to this morning:
Barnesville woman pleads guilty to ‘vicious, animalistic attack’ that killed foster baby
Said woman is, of course, 36-year-old Kellie Jo Anderson, who appeared yesterday in Clay County District Court on a charge of second-degree murder for the death of 18-month-old Henry Anderson.
Henry was the foster child of Kellie and her husband, Kyle Anderson, who is a biological relative of Henry. Reportedly, Henry was born with methamphetamine in his system, and Kyle and Kellie became foster parents for the express purpose of caring for Henry, who they planned to adopt last summer.
Before that could happen, however, on April 24, 2020, Kellie carried Henry’s body, “blue and lifeless with bruising to the face and head,” into the emergency room of the Sanford Medical Center in Fargo, North Dakota, a forty-minute drive from the family’s home in Barnesville, Minnesota. According to Clay County Chief Assistant Attorney Pamela Foss, Henry had been dead for approximately forty minutes by the time he arrived at the hospital. The prosecutor also stated that Henry had suffered bruises on literally every part of his body, calling Kellie’s assault on the baby a “vicious, animalistic attack.”
Henry had suffered multiple horrific injuries, including broken ribs, a jaw fracture, massive internal bleeding, and injuries to his genitals, which a doctor compared to the injuries a person would incur in a severe vehicular accident.
Court documents state that Kellie stopped at a McDonald’s restaurant near the hospital to check on Henry, where a witness, who saw blood on the baby’s face, told her to take him to the emergency room rather than commence chest compressions on her own.
Kellie is a registered nurse who worked in hospice care. She told investigators she did not call 911 because she would only do so if someone was unconscious or unresponsive, which she apparently claimed Henry was not when they set out for the hospital.
Kellie initially tried to pass Henry’s injuries off as self-inflicted, saying he threw himself several times from the bathtub to the toilet, but that didn’t get her very far. Even her husband told investigators that Henry had no history of self-injurious behavior. She was quickly arrested and extradited back to Minnesota to face the second-degree murder charge, on which prosecutors had requested an aggravated sentence due to the “particular cruelty” of Henry’s treatment by his foster mother. The standard sentence would be between 21 ¾ years and 30 ½ years due to Kellie’s lack of a criminal history, but with the aggravated sentence, she faced a sentence of 40 years in prison.
The trial for Kellie Anderson was scheduled to begin next week, but at the court hearing on Monday, May 3, 2021, pleaded guilty to second-degree felony murder charge, stating she killed Henry without intent by assaulting him at the family’s home on April 24 of last year. The original charge stating she killed the baby with intent was dismissed in exchange for her guilty plea.
During the hearing, Kellie wept as she recounted her attack on the helpless toddler. She said that morning, she kept Henry home from day care because he was running a fever, although she couldn’t recall the exact sequence of events due to medication she was taking at the time that clouded her recollection.
Kellie told the judge she remembered noticing Henry had cut his mouth during his bath, and she was frustrated that she couldn’t stop the bleeding. She then hit him several times. “I don’t know exactly why I did what I did. I don’t know why I reacted like that.”
She admitted to the court that Henry was not breathing when she drove him to the hospital in Fargo; she performed CPR on the baby before loading him into the vehicle.
Kellie, who is scheduled to be sentenced on June 18, will likely receive a sentence of 35 years in prison rather than the 40 year aggravated sentence she had faced. She will remain in the Clay County Jail until she is sentenced.
Kyle Anderson, who also shares a young daughter with Kellie, was not charged.
I hope Kellie’s sentence will provide Kyle, his daughter, and Henry’s extended family some measure of peace and healing. Most importantly, Henry will never be forgotten.
Click here for my ongoing coverage of Henry’s story.