Infant strangled in car seat

North St. Paul daycare provider charged with manslaughter

On Dec. 6, Ramsey County Attorney’s Office charged Amy Jo Englebretson, 43, with second-degree manslaughter for the death of an infant at her home daycare in North St. Paul over the summer.

The 6-month-old child reportedly stopped breathing when she became tangled in the straps of her car seat. 

Around 11 a.m. Aug. 8, North St. Paul police arrived at a home daycare on the 2300 block of South Avenue to respond to a report of an infant who was not breathing.

The criminal complaint states that Englebretson, who was taking care of nine other children at the time, opened the door, and police saw a baby girl lying on a rug on the living room floor. She was reportedly pale, cold to the touch, did not have a pulse and appeared to not be breathing.

Officers said they performed CPR on the baby until the ambulance arrived to transport her to Children’s Hospital in St. Paul where she was pronounced dead around 11:45 a.m.

Medical records indicate the primary cause of death appeared to be strangulation with cardiac arrest. They also noted “strap marks” on the body. The Ramsey County Medical Examiner determined the cause of death to be “asphyxia due to compression of the neck.” 

Englebretson reportedly told police that she placed the infant in her car seat for a nap, and then placed the car seat on the bed in the bedroom. She reported she went back into the bedroom twice, and the second time she noticed that the child had “scooted” down in her car seat and she “got strangled up” with the strap around her neck. 

Upon seeing this, Englebretson allegedly took the car seat into the living room, removed the child from the seat and began CPR before calling police. 

When police questioned Englebretson about the car seat, she allegedly admitted that she had not strapped the child in properly and that the straps were “too loose.” 

Police noted that the car seat had a “clearly legible” warning label that instructed adults to never place the carrier on beds or other soft surfaces because it can roll over and suffocate the child. The label also had a “strangulation” warning on it that stated, “Child can strangle in loose restraint straps. Always use harness. Never leave child in carrier when straps are loose or undone.”

The infant’s mother reportedly told police that Englebretson told her the baby would be napping in a portable crib in the living room within sight of the caretaker.

Police also said they discovered that Englebretson lacked a license for her home daycare and misled parents on the number of children that would be in her care.

Englebretson reportedly told police, “I am not licensed currently, but I always have been.” She allegedly added that she was “on a waiting list for Ramsey County” at the time of the incident.

According to the criminal complaint, an investigation revealed that Englebretson had not recently applied for a childcare license in Minnesota and there was no waiting list for the application process. It is illegal to operate an unlicensed daycare in Minnesota.

Investigations also reportedly revealed that although Englebretson had been licensed in Polk and St. Croix counties in Wisconsin between September 2000 and August 2015, she had never been licensed to take care of more than six children and of those, no more than three were to be younger than age 7.

On the day the infant died, the criminal complaint said Englebretson had 10 children in her care, and all were under 7 years old. In addition to the 6-month-old victim, Englebretson was also caring for two 6-year-olds, two 3 1/2-year-olds, a 2 1/2-year-old, a 22-month-old, a 17-month-old and two 16-month-olds. 

According to the criminal complaint, Englebretson had at least six violations during her licensure in Wisconsin for not complying with the number of children and age restrictions.

Reportedly, most of the parents whose children were under her care were told she was in the process of obtaining her license and that there would be between four and six children in her care. Most of the families were also new to her in-home daycare and had reportedly responded to her advertisement on Craig’s List.

The manslaughter charge alleges that Englebretson caused the death of the infant “while committing or attempting to commit child neglect or endangerment of a child in violation of Minnesota Statute, Section 609.378.” The maximum sentence for the second degree manslaughter conviction is 10 years in prison, a $20,000 fine or both.


Aundrea Kinney can be reached at 651-748-7822 or




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