Noelani Robinson

Shortly after the body of 2-year-old Noelani Robinson from Milwaukee was discovered a mile outside Blooming Prairie in March, residents from the community began contributing to a memorial site in honor of the girl and to show support for her family. (Press file photo)

ST. PAUL, Minn. — A Wisconsin toddler whose body was discovered on the side of Highway 218 just north of Blooming Prairie in March was killed as a result of blunt force trauma to the head and has been ruled a homicide, according to the state’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.

On Friday afternoon, the BCA released a statement in which the bureau said that it had “completed its investigation of the circumstances surrounding the death of Noelani Robinson” and that the Southern Regional Medical Examiner’s office had determined that the 2-year-old girl’s death was a homicide.

The findings of the BCA have been turned over to the Mower County Attorney’s Office for review. The attorney’s office is in the process of reviewing the material provided by the BCA. No further information is available at this time.

The body of Noelani Robinson of Milwaukee was discovered shortly after 6 p.m. Friday, March 15, after a passerby saw something suspicious wrapped in a blanket on the side of the highway about a mile north of Blooming Prairie.

Although no one has been charged in Noelani’s death, court documents related to the girl and particularly to the girl’s father — Dariaz Higgins, 35, who investigators have identified as a suspect in Noelani’s slaying — carve out a timeline of events related to the girl’s death and to the death of the girl’s mother, Sierra Robinson.

Noelani was reported missing in Milwaukee the week before her body was found after her mother was found shot to death in Milwaukee. Investigators believe that the toddler was taken by Higgins into Minnesota.

In a criminal complaint filed in Milwaukee in March, investigators say they believe that Higgins was at a hotel in Austin, Minn., with another woman, where he may have killed his daughter, wrapped her in a blanket and dumped her body on the side of the road.

Higgins has not be charged in Noelani’s death, but the announcement of the homicide finding could change that.

Higgins is currently in custody in Wisconsin, charged with killing Sierra Robinson, whom police believe he killed after dumping Noelani’s body and returning to Milwaukee.

Jeffrey Jackson is the managing editor of the Owatonna People's Press. He can be reached at 507-444-2371 or via email at jjackson@owatonna.com

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