Little Falls man arrested in connection with July death of 14-month-old

A Little Falls man was arrested in connection with the death of a 14-month-old, according to a news release from the Little Falls Police Department.

RELATED: Police investigating death of 1-year-old found unresponsive in Little Falls

Erik Adrian Blanco, 40, was arrested Wednesday morning and is in custody at Morrison County Jail on probable cause second-degree murder. Formal charges are expected later this week.

Riverlynn VanNorman’s mother called 911 on July 6 and told officers that the 14-month-old wasn’t breathing. Riverlynn was brought to the hospital, where she was pronounced deceased.

The Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office determined that she died of head and neck injuries that were consistent with homicidal violence.

Riverlynn and her mother had been temporarily staying with Blanco. He had been caring for the 14-month-old while her mother was away from the home, police said.

“After an exhaustive and thorough investigation into this case investigators have arrested Erik Blanco in connection with this heart-breaking tragedy,” Little Falls Police Chief Greg Schirmers said in a statement. “This case has deeply affected our community and our thoughts and condolences go out to Riverlynn’s family during this unimaginably difficult time. The pain and sorrow they are feeling is shared by the entire community. We also would like to express our gratitude to the community for their patience, understanding and support throughout the course of this long and difficult investigation.”

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, Morrison County Sheriff’s Office and Mayo Clinic Ambulance Service assisted in the investigation.