BILLINGS – A pregnant Lockwood woman and her husband were booked into Yellowstone County jail Thursday after police found their 17-month-old girl at home, dead of suspected dehydration and neglect earlier this month.
Laura Mink, 34, and Ronald Aaron Mink, 37, each face one count of deliberate homicide for failing to fulfill their duties as parents to a girl identified as S.M., according to Yellowstone County Deputy Prosecutor Sarah L. Hyde.
The couple’s other child, a 2½-year-old boy, was removed from the home and placed into protective custody.
At about 2 p.m. March 7, Yellowstone County sheriff’s deputies responded to an emergency call from the father, known as Aaron Mink, that the girl was unresponsive at the 3500 block of Tigard Avenue, according to charging documents filed Thursday. Responders found her dead at the scene and noted that rigor mortis had already set in, prosecutors said.
Aaron Mink told deputies he had noticed she wasn’t breathing when he awoke in the morning and immediately called 911, though prosecutors noted the 911 call was made around 2 p.m.
He also made conflicting statements regarding the child’s position when he found her. First, he said she was face down but later she was on her side. He also said he tried to perform CPR on her but could not open her mouth.
Laura Mink, who arrived at the home during the investigation, told deputies the couple had moved from Kentucky two months ago and their daughter suffered from a muscle condition called hypotonia. This left the girl underdeveloped and unable to crawl or hold a bottle, Laura Mink told authorities.
She also said she is eight and a half months pregnant.
Prosecutors said medical records obtained from Kentucky indicated the girl did not have such a condition.
An initial autopsy indicated that S.M. was severely dehydrated, her eyes sunken and her skin had obvious skin erosions and ulcerations. She weighed more at eight months old than at the time of her death.
A medical expert noted the need for medical treatment before the baby’s death would have been obvious to any caretaker because of her condition.
A relative told investigators that the Minks are longtime drug users who have moved to multiple states to evade child protective services. According to the relative, they’ve had four other children removed from their home.
Bail was set for both at $500,000.
The Minks are scheduled to appear in Yellowstone County District Court at 8:30 a.m. Friday before Judge Gregory Todd.