Minnesota man with history of child abuse arrested for toddler’s murder

LITTLE FALLS, MN- A Minnesota man with a history of child abuse has been apprehended this week on charges of allegedly murdering his girlfriend’s 14-month-old daughter. Erik Adrian Blanco, 40, was arrested and charged with second-degree murder with intent and second-degree murder without intent in relation to the death of toddler Riverlynn VanNorman, as per online records.

The Little Falls Police Department reported that Riverlynn’s mother dialed 911 around 9:23 p.m. on July 6, informing the dispatcher that her daughter had ceased breathing. Upon arrival at the residence on Third Street Northeast, authorities discovered the toddler pulseless and not breathing.

The child was immediately transported to St. Gabriel’s Hospital in Little Falls, where she was pronounced dead. The cause of death was determined to be “multiple head and neck injuries consistent with homicidal violence,” according to officials.

Investigations revealed that Riverlynn and her mother had been temporarily residing with Blanco, the mother’s boyfriend, for approximately a week. At the time of the fatal incident, the mother was not present at the home, leaving Blanco in charge of the child’s care.

The Star Tribune obtained a copy of the probable cause affidavit, which stated that the mother was in a state of hysteria, repeatedly calling out her daughter’s name when officers arrived at the scene. Blanco, on the other hand, was observed sporadically praying and was otherwise unemotional.

During an interview with detectives, Blanco reportedly failed to provide a plausible explanation for the injuries that led to Riverlynn’s death, simply denying any involvement. Blanco was subsequently arrested and detained at the Morrison County Jail on murder charges. His bond was set at $1 million during his court appearance on Friday.

Little Falls Police Chief Greg Schimers, in a statement, expressed his condolences to Riverlynn’s family and thanked the community for their patience and support during the investigation. He also announced the arrest of Blanco, describing the case as a “heart-breaking tragedy” that has deeply impacted the community.

Court records reveal Blanco’s criminal history, including a conviction for felony domestic assault in 2017, theft of a firearm or property valued over $35,000 in 2016, receiving stolen property in 2014, assault with a dangerous weapon in 2014, disorderly conduct and obstruction in 2006, and assault causing great bodily harm in 2001, the latter involving a 1-year-old victim who suffered a skull fracture.