Hibbing man charged with murder after death of two-year-old child

By KBJR News 1

August 29, 2014 Updated Aug 29, 2014 at 7:02 PM CDT

Virginia, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- A major break Friday in the 2012 death of a two year-old child on the Iron Range

Virginia Police announced the arrest of Russell Shannon Johnson who is charged with 2nd degree murder for the March 2012 death.

Authorities arrested the 26-year-old on Thursday after a two and half year long investigation into the death of Caroline Medicine-Chavez.

For the Medicine family... it's the news they've been waiting for.

"Happy, excited, finally get some kind of closure," said Bessie Medicine, Caroline Medicine-Chavez's family.

Two-year-old Caroline Medicine-Chavez's died in March of 20-12 after being found unresponsive and gasping for air.

A cat scan revealed fresh brain bleeding on the back left side and hemorrhaging in the eye.

Doctors said she had no brain activity and took her off life support.

The investigation into her death stalled for nearly two and half years until new revelations came to light in July of 2014.

"We didn't want to make a mistake and we just needed to wait for something else to happen. Luckily that did, somebody said something about what they heard," said Virginia Police Chief Dennis Benz.

Police say last month a witness reached out to the facebook page "Justice for Caroline" after speaking with Russell Shannon Johnson about the girl's death.

Johnson allegedly told the witness he was cranky and the child was a quote "whiney kid".

He went on to say the child in his face so he pushed her, and she flew into the wall, hitting her head.

"This is another case of somebody who we've alleged just being just maliciously vicious with a baby," said St Louis County Attorney, Mark Rubin.

Investigators credit the witness for the break they needed in the case.

A medical examiner ruled the death a homicide after reviewing new interviews and investigative reports within the last month.

"Whatever it takes we're gonna bring this case to justice for this child," said Rubin.

Although nothing will fill the void of their little girl being gone, Caroline's parents say Friday's news brings some closure.

"I'm happy, I'm just glad he's put away so he can't do this to nobody else, no other family," said Cody Chavez, Caroline's father.

We should add that less than three weeks before the girl's death, a criminal complaint states the little girl wound up in the hospital under suspicious circumstances.

Bail for Johnson has been set at $500,000.

He's scheduled to appear in court again on September 15 for an omnibus hearing.

Written and posted to the web by Raeanna Marnati
rmarnati@kbjr.com

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