Complaint: Father of dead infant regularly choked him to sleep, revived with chest compressions

A Fridley man is charged with murder in connection with the death of his 5-month-old son in March, court records show.

A criminal complaint alleges 23-year-old Aaron Michael Orlando Rathke would choke the child until he passed out and revive him with chest compressions whenever he had trouble putting him to sleep.

The child, identified by police as Kaiden Rathke, died on March 1, and on Sept. 27 the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled his death a homicide caused by multiple blunt force injuries.

The night of Kaiden’s death, Rathke told investigators the child made a “gurgling” sound and vomited before he stopped breathing. Rathke said even though the baby had gone cold, he and the child’s mother did not call 911 because they had been able to “bring him back” during past incidents; he explained that Kaiden sometimes would “forget to breathe,” the complaint states. Rathke also said he didn’t want to call an ambulance “because their neighborhood is ‘pretty quiet,'” opting instead to bring Kaiden to the Fridley Police Department.

In June, the baby’s mother sent a series of messages to Rathke’s mother about how Rathke “suffocated” Kaiden to put him to sleep.

“He suffocated him and then pushed on his chest to bring him back for he can breathe again and this has been happening often…He suffocated him and put him to sleep and then pushed on his chest to bring him back,” the messages state. She went on to note how Kaiden’s rib cage was “out of place.”

An autopsy report revealed Kaiden had suffered “multiple acute and healing rib fractures,” brain injuries and internal bleeding.

The mother eventually went to law enforcement about how Rathke would “choke” Kaiden and said Rathke pushed her away when she tried to intervene.

Court documents state Rathke has a 7-year-old child with another woman. That child’s mother told investigators Rathke was violent with her and that their child had a history of seizures that ended after the child stopped staying over with Rathke.

Rathke faces one count of second-degree murder. He is in custody at the Anoka County Jail in lieu of $250,000 bail. His first court date has yet to be scheduled.