Girl’s runaway case reveals home ‘unfit for human habitation’

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BROOKLYN PARK, Minn. (WCCO/AP) — The search and safe discovery of a missing Brooklyn Park girl has revealed a tumultuous home environment, including the unexplained death of one of her siblings.

More than 12 hours after she ran away, the 11-year-old girl was found safe outside a clinic in Bloomington, 22 miles away from her home.

Brooklyn Park Deputy Chief Mark Bruley says the girl and three siblings, including a 3-year-old, were taken into protective custody after their home was declared uninhabitable.

Bruley says their mother was taken to a hospital after officers determined she was in need of medical care.

Neighbors Marilyn Harris and her husband were the people who found the girl.

They believe the girl recognized them before asking for a ride back to Brooklyn Park.

“And then all of a sudden it started clicking because we’ve been watching this (investigation) all morning, and we said sure but she said nothing to us in the vehicle, nothing. Just said somebody dropped her off, that’s all we know,” said Harris.

When police initially responded to the home Monday morning, they said the conditions inside were unfit for children to be living in and had the remaining children taken by child protective services. Some officers entered the house wearing protective gear.

“The infestation of rodents and bugs inside the house is one the reasons why the officers are using protective gear,” said Deputy Chief Mark Bruley.

Later in the afternoon, a sign was placed on the home’s front door by the Brooklyn Park Code Enforcement and Public Health Division. The sign stated that it was “unfit for human habitation.” Nobody is allowed inside.

The mother of the children was hospitalized, and police said she was uncooperative.

Bruley said they’ve had several calls to the house regarding the welfare of the children, including a child’s death in February.

Court documents related to that investigation state the child was found unresponsive on the morning of Feb. 1, 2018, and pronounced dead at the scene. The cause of death was undetermined.

Those same documents state the children’s mother, Tasha Tennin, has an extensive child protection history with reports of physical abuse, endangerment, neglect and several reports of sexual abuse dating to 2006.

The documents, from May of this year, ask a court to order protective services for the children because of the multiple accusations against their mother.

If a child died there in February, why were children still living there? Deputy Chief Bruley said, “The Brooklyn Park Police Department is responsible for the criminal investigation, which is still ongoing. The rest of it, as far as the welfare of the children at the home, would be a child protection-type issue.”

WCCO contacted Hennepin County’s Child Protective Services regarding the death investigation. The station was told the county filed for an order of protection, as stated in the death investigation documents.

The court denied the request.