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Mom’s boyfriend charged with abuse of Hudson toddler

A St. Paul man is being held on $25,000 bail in St. Croix County Jail after being charged Thursday, April 10, with inflicting life-threatening injuries on a 3-year-old boy.

Jonathon D. Wierstad, 24, who was living at 917 St. Croix St. at the time of the incident, was arrested by Hudson police on April 9 and has been charged with felony physical child abuse –- recklessly causing great bodily harm.

As of Tuesday, Children’s Hospital of St. Paul had the child’s condition listed as critical and his prognosis was grave.

According to information from the police report and the criminal complaint, Wierstad, who was living with the child’s mother, called 911 on Tuesday, April 8, just before 10 a.m. to report the boy was not breathing.

The two were home alone and were eating pizza when the boy said he had to go to the bathroom. Wierstad first told police that he heard a noise from the bathroom and believed the child tripped over a pile of clothes and struck his head. He went on to to say that when he found the boy he was still breathing but when he picked him up from the floor the child went limp.

According to the report, when police arrived at the address, EMS personnel said that in their opinion the circumstances of the child’s injuries seemed suspicious.

Wierstad agreed to be interviewed by an investigator at the Hudson Police Department where he stuck to his original version of events from the 911 call. He was returned to his residence following his statement.

Police then proceeded to the Hudson Hospital and spoke with the physician attending the boy. While some food was found in the boy’s airway, the child had severe head trauma that was inconsistent with choking or a normal fall from a trip.

The child was transferred to Children’s Hospital St. Paul where doctors said the bleeding in the front and back of the boy’s brain was consistent with child abuse. During surgery 1.5 liters of blood were drained from the boy’s brain.

Following the report from Children’s Hospital, Hudson police re-interviewed Wierstad on Wednesday, April 9. He at first stuck to his original story but that changed when investigators told him about the abuse allegations. He then changed his version of events.

He said that he was tossing the boy overhead when he accidentally dropped the child and the boy landed on his head.

Wierstad told investigators that the boy cried after he was dropped on his head but that he stopped and started to eat pizza again before going to the bathroom and falling there.

Wierstad said he did not report his new version of events because he did not think it would change the outcome for the boy and he was concerned that he would be arrested.

According to the police report, when investigators asked Wierstad how they could believe his latest story, he replied “you can’t.”

The charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. A preliminary hearing is set for Thursday, April 17.

Meg Heaton

Meg Heaton has been a reporter with the Hudson Star Observer since 1990. She has a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and Native American Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

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