Nikki Potvin

A Milaca woman has been charged with third-degree murder in connection with the death of her 1-year-old daughter who died after being left in a vehicle with a heater running.

Twenty-nine-year-old Nikki Potvin is also facing two counts of second-degree manslaughter in connection with the Nov. 6, 2020, incident that occurred in the 13800 block of 52nd Avenue, southeast of Bock.

Potvin was arrested in mid-June in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, on drug charges and extradited to Milaca, where she was charged in Mille Lacs County District Court in connection with the death of the child.

An autopsy report from the Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s Office indicated that the cause of the child’s death was hyperthermia due to exposure to heat. Potvin told investigators she had left the child in a car for about four hours with the heat on high, according to court documents.

Mille Lacs County deputies were dispatched to the 52nd Avenue address on a report of a deceased child at about 3:30 a.m. Friday, Nov. 6, 2020. At the time deputies were being dispatched to the location, Potvin was taking the child to a hospital in Mora, court records state.

Deputies arrived to find on the property 12 campers and 30 vehicles. They described the area as very cluttered with burnt garbage, waste and abandoned household items scattered throughout. The camper in which Potvin was staying was empty, court records state.

According to the criminal complaint filed in Mille Lacs County Court, a witness asked to borrow Potvin’s vehicle between midnight and 1 a.m. in order to go to a convenience store to buy cigarettes. Potvin told the witness that the child was sleeping in the vehicle, court records state. The witness retrieved the girl and put her in the camper in which Potvin was staying. The witness told investigators that he thought at that time the child was already deceased, in part because there was blood on the child’s nose. The witness stated the vehicle was warm, as if the heater had been left on high.

A Mille Lacs County deputy contacted Kanabec County authorities, who confirmed that Potvin had been at the Mora hospital and that the 1-year-old had been pronounced dead at 3:47 a.m. A Mille Lacs County investigator went to Mora hospital where he spoke to Potvin, records state. Potvin told investigators that in the evening of Nov. 6 she took the child from the trailer to her vehicle and started the vehicle. Potvin stated that she buckled the child into a car seat and then went and sat in the front seat of the vehicle with the vehicle running.

According to court records, Potvin told investigators that she fell asleep for a short time.

When Potvin woke up, the child was sleeping in the car seat, she stated. Potvin then left the child alone sleeping in the car and went back inside the trailer, reports state.

The child was allegedly left unchecked until the witness asked to borrow the vehicle and found the child deceased.

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