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Torture case prompts fresh look at 2012 child death as Brainerd PD reopens investigation

After learning of a potential connection between the 2012 death investigation and Borders, the Dispatch submitted a data request to the police department, seeking to inspect the investigative file.

An apartment building in the snow
An apartment building on the 800 block of Walnut Street in Brainerd, pictured here Thursday, Dec. 8, 2022, was the site of the 2012 death of a 5-year-old child.
Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch
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BRAINERD — The Brainerd Police Department reopened a decade-old case involving the death of a 5-year-old boy because of a link to the Crosslake woman charged recently with child torture.

Deputy Chief John Davis confirmed Thursday, Dec. 8, the department this week reactivated its investigation into the death of the child, who died April 8, 2012, at his home in an apartment building on the 800 block of Walnut Street in Brainerd.

According to the one-page incident report, the person who called 911 that morning to report the death was Jorden Nicole Borders, whose address at the time was listed as a residence on the 800 block of Lake Street in Brainerd. Borders now faces six felonies — three for child torture and three for stalking — related to alleged medical child abuse and other physical and mental abuse of her three young children.

Jorden Nicole Borders.jpg
Jorden Nicole Borders.
Contributed

“In light of what we and everyone else have learned here over the last couple of weeks, we had been in discussion on reevaluating, taking another look at that investigation with some of the additional stuff that we all have learned about that individual (Borders),” Davis said.

Davis confirmed Borders was not the mother of the child but declined to elaborate on her connection to the case. Borders was not listed as a survivor in the boy’s obituary.

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After learning of a potential connection between the 2012 death investigation and Borders, the Dispatch on Tuesday submitted a data request to the police department, seeking to inspect the investigative file. Minnesota law pertaining to government data practices notes criminal investigative data is generally considered public when an investigation is no longer active.

But the police department renewed its investigation Wednesday, meaning the file’s contents once again are considered confidential.

“We were probably within 24 hours of flipping that switch anyway. When the request came in, we just realized, well, you know what, we just gotta do it now,” Davis said. “We don’t have any new information. There has been no change, other than, just in light of everything that took place, we just thought it would be best just to take another look at that case and just double-check.”

Davis declined to comment any further on the details of the case in light of its active status. The Dispatch is not identifying the child who was the subject of the death investigation while the case remains active.

“With investigations, so often you can’t, from the very beginning, identify every investigative step that’s going to take place from the beginning till the end when it’s closed,” Davis said. “It’s where, you know, the investigation leads you. … The first thing is just to review the case file and identify if there’s anything we need to specifically look at again.”

The incident

Certain information documenting an agency’s response to a request for service is considered public government data, no matter the investigation’s status. In response to the Dispatch’s data request, the Brainerd Police Department sent a copy of the incident report created for the death investigation.

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April 8, 2012, was Easter Sunday, a day that saw typical springtime weather in Brainerd. The snow had melted and a trace amount of rainfall was recorded at the Brainerd airport by the National Weather Service. The temperature topped out at 52 degrees and conditions were ripe for grass fires, including one large enough to prompt response by air as it flared up that afternoon to the west in Wadena County.

A Crow Wing County dispatcher answered a 911 call at 7:08 a.m. that morning from Borders, who is listed as the complainant in the incident report. The incident was assigned to the late Brainerd Police Officer Mike Lambert at 7:15 a.m. Lambert arrived at the second-floor apartment four minutes later at 7:19 a.m. The scene was cleared two hours and three minutes later at 9:22 a.m.

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Other officers assigned to the incident were Brian Brewer, Tim Melin, Chad Kleffman and Paul Dooley. More than 10 years later, Dooley is the only officer associated with the case who remains on the force.

State law requires sudden deaths to be promptly reported to the medical examiner for evaluation, including unexpected deaths in children. The medical examiner will determine the extent of their own investigation, including whether an autopsy will be performed.

Details were unavailable Friday to confirm whether a medical examiner conducted an autopsy or whether a cause of death for the child was determined. Brainerd police originally closed the investigation on Aug. 10, 2012.

There has been no change, other than, just in light of everything that took place, we just thought it would be best just to take another look at that case and just double-check.
John Davis, deputy Brainerd police chief

In his obituary, the boy was remembered for his beautiful smile, sparkling eyes and bubbly personality.

“You touched the lives of all that knew you and were able to be a part of your life. Although you were taken from us far too soon, your life means so much and will be cherished forever,” the obituary stated.

More on the torture case

Borders was charged Nov. 21 following a child maltreatment investigation beginning in May by the Crow Wing County Sheriff’s Office. The investigation revealed Borders allegedly tortured her three young children through actions like withdrawing blood, forcing them to wear casts and neck braces despite not having injuries and inflicting frequent physical abuse as punishment.

Doctors from multiple health care systems — puzzled by one of Borders’ children’s unexplained health problems over the course of three years — began to share similar and troubling suspicions of abuse. A July 13 application for a search warrant filed by the Sheriff’s Office detailed extensive efforts by professionals to settle on cohesive diagnoses for him before Borders’ arrest. While a litany of surgeries, procedures and unusual test results failed to clarify the 9-year-old boy’s conditions, it led to speculation about Borders’ role in causing or fabricating his illnesses.

Borders received financial assistance from the state of Minnesota to care for this child and was nominated to receive several gifts and money from nonprofit foundations in the area, the complaint stated, totaling more than $35,000. Crow Wing County Attorney Don Ryan said last week his office is reviewing facts of the case related to the financial support Borders received for possible additional criminal charges.

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Badowicz home 2.jpg
A photo of the home located on the 33000 block of Industrial Road in Crosslake, where Crow Wing County law enforcement officials executed a search warrant in November 2022 related to a criminal investigation into child torture allegations.
Contributed / Crow Wing County

The 9-year-old wasn’t the only child affected by Borders’ alleged abuse. The criminal complaint outlining the charges filed against Borders revealed she apparently self-diagnosed two of her other children — an 11-year-old boy and an 8-year-old girl — with osteogenesis imperfecta, known as brittle bones disease. Borders’ Facebook profile, the majority of which is no longer public, showed references to the disease in relation to her children dating back to at least 2016.

The children’s interviews with authorities included descriptions of other kinds of physical and emotional abuse.

Crow Wing County placed the 9-year-old in protective custody in May. Community Services monitored the care of the other two children before they were also removed from the home in July. Borders was not allowed unsupervised contact with the children after their removal. With the criminal charges filed against Borders, one of her conditions of release barred her from contact with anyone under 18.

Mugshot of Christopher Martin Badowicz.
Christopher Martin Badowicz
Contributed / Crow Wing County Jail

Borders and her husband Christopher Martin Badowicz later agreed to terminate their parental rights in a Dec. 2 court hearing. Badowicz is the father of two of the three children involved in the case and was himself charged with a felony after he allegedly tried to help his wife evade arrest.

The torture charges carry a maximum penalty of up to 25 years in prison, a $35,000 fine or both. The penalty for the stalking charges includes a maximum of 10 years of prison time and/or a $20,000 fine.

Stalking is described in Minnesota statute as when the perpetrator knows — or has reason to know — they would cause a victim to feel terrorized or to fear bodily harm, and when their actions do cause those feelings.

Both Borders and Badowicz are out of jail awaiting their next court dates. Borders is scheduled to appear Feb. 23. Badowicz is due back in court Feb. 16.

CHELSEY PERKINS, community editor, may be reached at 218-855-5874 or chelsey.perkins@brainerddispatch.com . Follow on Twitter at twitter.com/DispatchChelsey .

Chelsey Perkins is the community editor of the Brainerd Dispatch. A lakes area native, Perkins joined the Dispatch staff in 2014. She is the Crow Wing County government beat reporter and the producer and primary host of the "Brainerd Dispatch Minute" podcast.
Reach her at chelsey.perkins@brainerddispatch.com or at 218-855-5874 and find @DispatchChelsey on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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