Fergus Falls couple charged after child in their care dies of heroin overdose

Court documents allege evidence links a heroin container found in child's room to the couple.


FERGUS FALLS, Minn. — Two Fergus Falls residents are facing manslaughter charges after a 14-year-old died from a heroin overdose while in their care, according to investigators.

The Otter Tail County Attorney’s Office filed criminal complaints against Sasha Kaylynne Petersdorf, 28, and Justin Lee Nehk, on Friday, May 21. Each faces a second-degree felony manslaughter charge after emergency crews responded March 27 to their home at 623 East Summit Ave.

The unidentified 14-year-old, who was under the couple’s legal guardianship, was treated for an overdose before being taken to the Lake Region Hospital in Fergus Falls, according to a criminal complaint. The child was then airlifted to Sanford Medical Center in Fargo, where the child died March 28, the complaint said.

Authorities determined the child died from an accidental heroin overdose, according to court documents. A container on a TV stand found in the 14-year-old’s room tested positive for heroin, the complaint said.

Police said they found drug-related items in Petersdorf and Nehk’s bedroom. Petersdorf acknowledged using heroin with Nehk at the home, but she said they kept the drugs in a lockbox, the complaint alleged.


Nehk also said he kept heroin in the container that was eventually found in the child’s room, according to the complaint. Nehk said he put the container in his own dresser but hadn’t seen it for several months, the complaint alleged.

Petersdorf denied ever seeing the container, court documents said.

Arrest warrants have been issued for Petersdorf and Nehk. The couple had not been booked into the Otter Tail County Jail as of Friday evening.

Court documents did not list an attorney for Petersdorf or Nehk.

April Baumgarten joined The Forum in February 2019 as an investigative reporter. She grew up on a ranch 10 miles southeast of Belfield, N.D., where her family raises Hereford cattle. She double majored in communications and history/political science at the University of Jamestown, N.D.
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