St. Paul police investigating death of 2-year-old as homicide; parents arrested

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Police say the death of a 2-year-old girl early Sunday morning in St. Paul’s Dayton’s Bluff neighborhood is being investigated as a homicide, the city’s first of the year.

According to St. Paul Police Department spokesman Mike Ernster, officers responded to a call after a man called the non-emergency number then hung up. At around 2:30 a.m., officers arrived at 1000 block of East Third Street and spoke to the father that called.

Police said the man thought his 2-year-old daughter was dead on the back porch. Officers immediately went to the porch to find the 2-year-old unconscious and unresponsive.

The St. Paul Fire Paramedics responded and pronounced the child dead at the scene, said St. Paul police.

Monday, police identified the child as Melody Vang. Police also clarified that the initial information they received was that the child was 3 years old but investigators have since determined she’s actually 2.

The mother and father — identified as Ciashia Lee and John Vang — were transported to the St. Paul Police Department to be questioned. After being interviewed, both were booked into the Ramsey County Jail on suspicion of murder. They remained in custody Monday morning.

Five other children were in the home at the time of the death, ranging from 9 months old to 11 years old. They were all placed into the custody of Ramsey County Child Protection.

The department’s Forensics Services Unit will be processing the scene to find physical evidence to tell the story of what led to this death.

"These kind of calls are ones that officers will remember for their careers," Sgt. Mike Ernster with Saint Paul Police said. "When I would respond to these calls as a patrol officer I would tend to think of my own kids and almost see them in that position and it’s heartbreaking, it’s extremely tragic."

The Ramsey County medical examiner will positively identify the victim and determine an exact cause of death at a later time.