Arrest made in toddler's death
WORTHINGTON -- An arrest has been made in the death of 2-year-old Samantha Fraga, who died March 20 in Worthington. Arrested was her uncle, Josue Fraga, who is charged with two counts of second-degree murder and one count of first-degree criminal...
WORTHINGTON -- An arrest has been made in the death of 2-year-old Samantha Fraga, who died March 20 in Worthington. Arrested was her uncle, Josue Fraga, who is charged with two counts of second-degree murder and one count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct.
Worthington Public Safety Director Mike Cumiskey released the information during a press conference Wednesday night at the Prairie Justice Center, answering questions along with Worthington Det. Sgt. Kevin Flynn.
"The investigation is still ongoing," Cumiskey said. "Just because we made an arrest doesn't mean that we aren't still investigating."
According to a provisional report from the medical examiner's office, the child died of traumatic head injuries, multiple contusions of the extremities and the trunk of the body, traumatic injury of the external sexual organs and rectum, peritonitis and rupture of the stomach.
Cumiskey could not comment on whether the alleged abuse had been ongoing or was a one-time incident. The child had been living with an aunt and Fraga.
Cumiskey did not know exactly how long Fraga had lived in the area, but did say he had been in the community for at least a couple of years.
Fraga reportedly brought the child to the hospital in the early morning hours of March 20, but Cumiskey would not comment on whether there was anyone else with him at the time. When asked about the possibility of more arrests, Cumiskey said he could not rule out that possibility.
From the time the child's death was reported by Worthington Regional Hospital to Fraga's arrest, authorities were keeping track of the man's whereabouts and staying in contact.
Before the initial investigation and the provisional autopsy report came back, "we had no probable cause to arrest him," Cumiskey said. "We have to put a whole case together before an arrest can be made and determine who the possible suspects may be. It is a lot of investigating."
After 22 years as a police officer, Cumiskey said making an arrest as quickly as possible in a homicide investigation is a great thing.
"Rumors start flying that are not close to what has truly taken place," he commented, adding that the arrest also alleviates the fear or paranoia in the community that someone out there who committed a murder is lurking about.
"The arrest is a great thing, but it will be even a greater thing if it's proven beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law," he added.
Because of the ongoing investigation, Cumiskey and Flynn were hesitant to answer some questions, such as whether eyewitness reports from the neighborhood helped the investigation or whether drugs or alcohol were involved in the incident.
Flynn and Cumiskey agreed that assistance from the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA), the Nobles County Sheriff's Office and the state troopers was invaluable.
"It was very much a joint effort," Flynn said. "The BCA provided a great deal of assistance."
Fraga was arrested without incident by the Nobles County Sheriff's Office in the city of Adrian, where he was in his vehicle.
Cumiskey could not say whether the case would go to a grand jury for murder one charges.
"I can't say it won't be a possibility in this case," he added. "That will be determined by investigation and whether the attorneys think we have probable cause to take it to a grand jury."
Flynn also believes the timely arrest was "very important."
"You don't put 2-year-olds in body bags," he added.
Fraga is in custody in the Nobles County Jail and will make a court appearance within the next few days. The Minnesota Attorney General's Office will prosecute the case with assistance from the Nobles County Attorney's Office.