Woman arrested in Chippewa Falls was wanted on a child murder charge in MN

CHIPPEWA FALLS (WQOW) - A woman arrested on drug charges and illegally using an ID in Chippewa Falls last week is facing extradition to Minnesota on a child murder charge.

Nikki Jean Potvin, 29, is charged with 3rd degree murder and 2nd degree manslaughter in Mille Lacs County, Minnesota for an incident that happened in early November 2020.

According to the criminal complaint filed in Mille Lacs County:

Authorities describe the area where Potvin lives as "very cluttered with burnt garbage, waste and abandoned household items scattered throughout" the property with 12 campers and 30 vehicles.

Potvin told authorities she fell asleep in the SUV and when she woke up, her 1-year-old daughter was sleeping in her car seat. Potvin got out of the vehicle and went into one of the campers, leaving the girl in the car which was running with the heat on.

After an "unknown period of time," a man asked to borrow Potvin's SUV. Potvin gave him the OK and said her child was sleeping in the car, which was running. That was between 12 and 1 a.m. on Nov. 6. The man said the car was warm "as if the heat was left on high." A witness said the child had been in the car for four hours.

The man took the child out of the SUV and put it in a camper with Potvin. The man believed at that point the child was already dead.

Potvin took the child to the hospital where she was pronounced dead.

Authorities say the temperature at that time of night was in the upper 40s to low 50s.

An autopsy on the little girl showed the cause of death was "hyperthermia due to exposure to heat."

Chippewa County Sheriff Jim Kowalczyk told News 18 Potvin was arrested in Chippewa Falls on June 9 on recommended meth charges and misappropriating an ID. Kowalczyk did not know why she was in Chippewa Falls.

On Tuesday, June 15, Potvin was charged in Chippewa County Court with three counts of misappropriating an ID to obtain money, two counts of identity theft to obtain money or credit, possessing meth and possessing drug paraphernalia. She was in court on Tuesday afternoon for an initial appearance on those charges where a $2,000 signature bond was continued.

She is being held in the Chippewa County Jail until an extradition hearing on June 17 for the murder charge.

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“Any time there’s a loss of a child, it’s just a very tragic event no matter if it’s by natural means or by accident or by some other means,” he said.