Questions remain for family, community after 3-year-old's homicide
BRECKENRIDGE Minn. --The grandmother of a Breckenridge, Minnesota toddler, whose death is being investigated as a homicide, said she called child protective services one week before the boy was killed.
Now, she and the community are looking for answers to 3-year-old Winter Barker's death.
Toys have been piling up over the past week or so in honor and in the memory of Barker, but family, friends, and community members don't just want to leave toys.
They want answers and justice for this child, along with his family.
"I looked at that shrine over there, and it just breaks my heart," said Jodie Olson of Breckenridge.
Days after police were called to the apartment, neighbors learned 3-year-old Winter Barker's lifeless body was found.
He was later pronounced dead at the hospital.
Breckenridge resident Ivory Murphy found out through her taxi driver.
"We were all like 'what?" Because we had never known about anything happening like, let alone in our own apartment building," Murphy said.
Relatives were just as shocked, including Winter's grandmother, Rita Finley.
Finley said she had hoped to gain custody of the boy when her daughter, Winter's biological mother Korey Finley, went to jail for violating a probation order.
She said after the boy's father got custody, she called child protection services because she was concerned about Winter's safety.
She also said she was unable to get in touch with the family, adding "they didn't know anything."
Finley also said Winter's father, Tracy Brant, is in jail on unrelated charges, and Brant's current girlfriend is the one who called her to tell her Winter had died.
"My response to her was what did you do to him? And she said, 'No. He was sick with the flu the day before and was throwing up,'" Finley recalled.
As winter turns to spring in Minnesota, the community and family are left uncertain, for this boy named after the season.
No one has been charged so far in the 3-year-old's homicide, and when we reached out to Wilkin County Family Services for information about Winter's case, they referred us to the Chief of Police.