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Stearns County woman facing murder charges in 13-year-old daughter's death

Elise Christine Nelson, 35, of Paynesville, alledgedly repeatedly denied her 13-year-old disabled daughter care, ultimately leading to her death, according to court records.

Elise Christine Nelson
Elise Christine Nelson Photo courtesy of Stearns County Jail
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PAYNESVILLE, Minn. — A 35-year-old Paynesville, Minn., woman has been charged with murder in the death of her disabled 13-year-old daughter by ignoring and silencing medical equipment that warned the girl’s oxygen levels were dangerously low.

Elise Christine Nelson was charged with felony second-degree murder and felony second-degree manslaughter in Stearns County District Court related to the June death of her daughter.

The child, identified as Kylie Christine Larson in her obituary , suffered from significant medical issues due to a loss of oxygen at birth, including cerebral palsy and chronic respiratory failure due to aspiration, according to the criminal complaint.

Nelson and her ex-husband shared custody of Larson, who was in the care of Nelson during the time in question.

According to the criminal complaint, Nelson repeatedly silenced, turned off or lowered tolerable levels on her daughter's pulse oximeter machine, which measures blood oxygen saturation and pulse rate, before eventually calling 911 hours after the machine stopped registering any pulse or oxygen levels.

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Nelson's husband went on a fishing trip on June 18, 2020, with Nelson planning on heading to a cabin in Alexandria, Minn., that weekend with Larson and another unnamed child.

Larson developed diarrhea, causing Nelson to cancel her plans and instead stay in Paynesville to take care of Larson. She made arrangements for the other child to stay at a friend’s house for the weekend, according to the criminal complaint.

On June 18 and 19, Larson’s oximeter machine showed her oxygen levels and pulse rate were stable.

If Larson's oxygen levels fell below 90% or her heart rate fell below 50 beats per minute or rose above 190 beats per minute, the machine would beep to let a caretaker know to take action.

According to the complaint, Nelson repeatedly silenced the machine or lowered the tolerance level required for an alarm to sound, including twice silencing the alarm the morning of June 20 and lowering the tolerable oxygen rate from 90% to 87% before turning the machine off around 6:40 p.m. that night when the alarm sounded again.

It is alleged that Nelson then spent the early morning hours of June 21 silencing and lowering the tolerable rates for the oximeter machine monitoring her daughter.

  • At 12:32 a.m. June 21, the oximeter machine was turned back on and the oxygen rate was set at 90%.
  • At 1:08 a.m., the alarm sounded multiple times and Nelson allegedly silenced it continuously.
  • At 1:13 a.m., the machine was turned off.
  • At 4:37 a.m., according to the complaint, Nelson turned the oximeter on again and lowered the tolerable oxygen rate to 89%, which triggered the alarm immediately and which Nelson then silenced.
  • At 4:38 a.m. the tolerable oxygen rate was lowered to 84%. From 4:59 a.m. to 5:32 a.m. the alarm sounded multiple times and was silenced every time.
  • At 5:41 a.m. the tolerable oxygen rate was raised to 90% and from 5:42 a.m. to 5:45 a.m. the alarm sounded multiple times which Nelson allegedly silenced.
  • At 5:44 a.m. Nelson is alleged to have lowered the tolerable oxygen rate to 79%.
  • At 6:33 a.m., the alarm sounded and was silenced, and then Nelson allegedly proceeded to lower the tolerable rates from 77% to 76% to 74% over the course of eight minutes.
  • The last oxygen level measured by the oximeter was at 6:43 a.m. June 21.
  • Later that morning, Nelson ignored multiple calls from the family friend taking care of the other child that weekend and did not answer when they knocked on her door, according to the complaint.
  • At 12:49 p.m., Nelson sent a text message to her friend saying she had just done an hour of CPR and was waiting for police. There was no emergency call from Nelson until 1:09 p.m.
  • At 1:13 p.m., officers arrived at the scene and saw Larson lying on the floor. Larson was cold to the touch and had blood pooling on her back and the backside of her legs, meaning death had not immediately occurred.

Larson was transported to Paynesville Hospital and pronounced dead at 1:50 p.m. June 21.
According to the complaint, Nelson told police that she heard Larson’s machine go off and that she saw Larson’s oxygen level drop to 86% and that Larson had “flatlined,” at which point she began CPR for an hour before calling law enforcement.

Law enforcement commented that Nelson did not look like she had been giving CPR for an hour and phone records show that a phone call was not made until hours after Larson’s oximeter machine stopped registering signs of life.

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The Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office conducted an autopsy on the child and concluded that while Larson had medical issues sustained during birth, the manner of death was homicide due to Nelson intentionally depriving care from Larson.

Nelson is being held with no bail in the Stearns County Jail and had her first court appearance Thursday morning, Sept. 24. Bail was set at $500,000 unconditional or $350,000 with conditions, according to the Stearns County Attorney's office. Her next appearance is scheduled for Oct. 8.

Mark Wasson has been a public safety reporter with Post Bulletin since May 2022. Previously, he worked as a general assignment reporter in the southwest metro and as a public safety reporter in Willmar, Minn. Readers can reach Mark at mwasson@postbulletin.com.
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