The uncle of an 11-month-old baby who died in a fire in Tower last week is accused of leaving the boy home while going to buy drugs.
Jesse Lee Bonacci-Koski of Hibbing was babysitting his nephew – Bentley Joe Lewis Koski – when he left him home alone for about two hours the morning of Aug. 2, according to the criminal complaint.
During that time, the house started on fire. Officials found Bentley – who would have turned 1 year old on Aug. 30 – in his crib in a second-floor bedroom.
He was pronounced dead, with the medical examiner saying he had soot in his esophagus, stomach, and airways.
According to the charges, 24-year-old Bonacci-Koski admitted to investigators that he left the child home, with investigators saying he did so to buy drugs.
When he went back to the house, he saw firefighters at the scene so he turned around and went to Benchwarmers Bar and Grill, the complaint says. He then stole a Jeep from nearby, later ditching it and running into a woods and swamp.
He was later spotted coming out of the woods and was taken into custody.
Bonacci-Koski is charged with second-degree manslaughter, theft of a motor vehicle, and possession of a controlled substance – methamphetamine.
A cause of the fire has not been reported.
As of Aug. 3, 35 people have died in fires in Minnesota, according to the State Fire Marshal's Office.