Whiteshield Pleads Guilty in Death of Spirit Lake Toddler - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Whiteshield Pleads Guilty in Death of Spirit Lake Toddler

Whiteshield Pleads Guilty in Death of Spirit Lake Toddler

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A North Dakota woman has pleaded guilty to felony child abuse which led to the death of a toddler on the Spirit Lake Reservation.

Thirty-two-year-old Hope Louise Tomahawk Whiteshield, of St. Michael, pleaded guilty to child abuse and witness tampering in federal court on Monday.

Under the terms of the plea agreement, federal prosecutors will recommend a sentence of 30 years in prison for the two felony charges. Whiteshield has agreed not to seek a sentence of less than 25 years.

Tomahawk Whiteshield is accused of throwing a girl just shy of 3 years old down an embankment last month, then bathing and clothing the unresponsive child and putting her to bed. An autopsy concluded the girl died of a head injury.

A sentencing date has not been scheduled.

UPDATED JUNE 21: Step Grandmother arrested - child died from "severe head trauma"

31 Year-old Hope Lousie Tomahawk Whiteshield was arrested in the child's death and charged with child abuse and neglect. The US Attorney's office confirmed the arrest this afternoon in a criminal complaint where they accuse Whiteshield of throwing the child down an embankment. They also corrected the age of the dead toddler, Lauren Whiteshield. The FBI had originally reported the child's age as 3 years old, the corrected age is 2 years 11 months. 

Fort Totten police chief Marty Foote confirmed this afternoon that an arrest had been made in the death of a child on the Spirit Lake reservation. He did say that the FBI had authorized him to confirm the arrest.

Sources we have spoke with who have read the autopsy report on three year old Lauren Whiteshield say the report indicates the child died from "severe head trauma."

This is a developing story. Keep checking back for more details.

June 19, 2013

North Dakota's U.S. senators are calling for quick action by authorities investigating the death of a 3-year-old girl on the Spirit Lake Reservation.

The FBI has called the death "mysterious" but hasn't released details, citing the ongoing investigation.
Sen. Heidi Heitkamp tells the Grand Forks Herald she's deeply concerned another child might have fallen victim to a child protection system on the reservation that she says is clearly broken. An aide for Sen. John Hoeven says the death is "another serious and sad event" that demands quick action by authorities.
The effectiveness of child protection services on the reservation has been the subject of debate for more than a year. The BIA took over the system last fall following criticism that the tribe had failed to protect vulnerable children.
(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

June 18, 2013

The FBI is calling the death of a three year old girl on the Spirit Lake Reservation "mysterious." FBI spokesman Kyle Loven says they are trying to determine if the child's death is a homicide.

The toddler was pronounced dead Thursday morning after police were called to a home on the corner of BIA 4 and Highway 1. Investigators had the home taped off early in the day.

A social services worker we spoke to says the girl and her twin sister were in foster homes up until one month ago. Details on the case are still limited as the FBI and BIA are working a joint investigation into the death.

A Valley News Live crew was assaulted while standing on public property and shooting video of the home where the girl died. Suna Guy was arrested after the incident. He was released on a personal recognizance bond on Friday and still facing charges in the incident.
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