2015 murder solved; nanny's husband charged in baby's death


A Shakopee man was charged in the murder of a one-year-old girl in 2015, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced Friday.


Nicholas Lance Larson, 27, was charged with one count of second-degree murder in the death of Tara Engman on Dec. 22, 2015. Engman died of blunt force injuries, according to the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office.


“This charge was brought because of relentless work by the Minneapolis Police Department’s Homicide Unit and our prosecutors,” Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said. “It took about 16 months because no one was admitting to what happened and it required detailed examinations by doctors and DNA results to provide the evidence we needed to bring the charge. In addition, one of our prosecutors interviewed the nanny and received more truthful evidence than she originally provided.”


According to the criminal complaint, Engman was seen by her pediatrician on Dec. 21, 2015 for a cough and fever. There was no sign of bruising or other marks.


The next day, Engman was left at her home in the care of her nanny when her parents went to work. Later in the day, Larson, who was married to the nanny, came to the house, the complaint states. At about 2:40 p.m., the nanny called Engman’s father, telling him the baby was having difficulty breathing. An ambulance was called and she was taken to the Hennepin County Medical Center.


A child abuse specialist doctor examined Engman in the emergency room and determined the little girl had a traumatic brain injury and injuries to her ears from pulling on them, according to the complaint. Engman died the next day.


A different child abuse specialist doctor also looked at the information and determined that the injuries likely occurred a short time before she arrived at the hospital, and certainly after 8:30 a.m. when her parents left her with the nanny, the complaint states.


Investigators took swabs of Engman’s ears. The DNA matched Larson’s DNA and not the nanny or the parents, according to the complaint. In an interview, the nanny said that after the ambulance left, Larson told her that she had to tell police he never touched Engman that day. She did, but now told prosecutors that he was alone with the girl during the day.

Larson is expected to make a first appearance Monday and prosecutors will ask for $1 million bail.


Criminal Complaint (PDF)