Father LANCE MARSHALL BALLINGER has been arrested in connection with the death of his nine-month-old daughter, who died on Father's Day. Dad was picked up shortly after the baby's death on a probation violation. He had just been released from jail the DAY BEFORE after serving 52 days for a violation of domestic abuse/no contact order, gross misdemeanor DUI, and misdemeanor domestic assault. Ballinger had apparently been in jail "on at least a half dozen occasions over the past three years." Ballinger had previously been convicted of domestic assault against the baby's mother. The mother has also said that Ballinger punched and kicked her in the abdomen when she was pregnant with the now deceased baby and that Ballinger said at that time that he "would rather see it dead" than the mother having the child.
Tribal police probe baby's death
By KATHI NAGORSKI
The Mille Lacs Tribal Police Department is investigating the death of an infant who died on Father's Day.
It was learned Wednesday that tribal police were called at 5:45 a.m. Sunday to the 15,000 block of Migizi Drive near Onamia because of an unresponsive infant.
The 9-month-old child, Tila Friend-Ballinger, was transported by ambulance to the Onamia hospital where the girl was pronounced dead.
"We've ruled it a suspicious death," said Dwight Reed, tribal police chief. "It's always a shame when a child that young passes away, especially under these circumstances."
Russ Jude, tribal police investigator, said, "We have leads that we're following up on. No arrests (have been made) at this point related to this case."
An arrest was made of the girl's father later Sunday morning on a probation violation. Lance Marshall Ballinger, 23, is being held in the Mille Lacs County jail without bail.
Capt. Mike Smith, of the Mille County Sheriff's Department's jail division, said jail records reveal Ballinger was checked back into the jail a little more than 24 hours after he was released from the jail.
Ballinger re-entered the jail about 8 a.m. Sunday on the probation violation. The Mille Lacs County attorney's office said consumption of alcohol triggered the arrest on the probation violation.
About 7 a.m. Saturday, Ballinger was released from the Mille Lacs jail after serving 52 days in jail on a violation of domestic abuse/no contact order, gross misdemeanor DUI and misdemeanor domestic assault, Smith said.Jude said three tribal police officers responded early Sunday morning to the Migizi Drive residence.
There were three other children in the home at that time as well as Tila's father, Lance Ballinger, tribal police said. The children included Tila's 17-year-old aunt, 5-year-old half-sister and 2-year-old half-brother.
Tribal police said this residence was not the primary residence of Tila or her half-siblings. The home is the primary residence of Lance Ballinger and the 17-year-old.
Smith said Ballinger has been in the Mille Lacs County Jail on at least a half-dozen occasions over the past three years.
An autopsy is being performed by the Midwest Medical Examiner's office, which is led by Dr. Janis Amatuzio.Jan Kolb, Mille Lacs County attorney, declined to comment on the death investigation.
According to court records, Ballinger has been convicted of domestic assault involving Tila's mother.
This year three criminal complaints have been filed against Ballinger - two in January and one in February - accusing him of two counts of domestic abuse/no contact order violation, two counts of gross misdemeanor DUI and domestic assault.
In 2008, Ballinger was accused of domestic assault and third-degree assault of an unborn child.
The victim in all cases, according to the criminal complaints, was Kelly Friend, mother of Tila. On at least two occasions, according to the criminal complaints, Friend was observed by law enforcement officials to have suffered injuries to her face that caused bleeding.
The criminal complaint in the 2008 case states, in part, "Friend said that she was sleeping when she awoke to being punched and kicked. Friend stated that she was three and half months pregnant and that Ballinger hit her in the abdominal area saying that 'he would rather see it dead than her having it.' Friend believed that Ballinger was attempting to harm the child that he is the father of."
In the most recent criminal complaint filed in February, Friend denied being abused.
Jude and Reed said tribal police are conducting interviews and actively pursuing leads in this death investigation.
Ballinger remains in jail.Friend could not be reached for comment.
Funeral services for Tila begin at 10 a.m. Thursday at the East Lake Community Center near McGregor.