Foster County day care provider pleads not guilty to murder of 5-month-old baby

Court papers show 48-year-old Patricia Wick gave several different stories about what happened to 5-month-old Reed Nelson.

Patricia Wick, 48, pleaded not guilty to three charges including the murder of a 5-month-old baby.
Matt Henson / WDAY News

CARRINGTON, N.D. — Police say a Foster County day care provider gave them a number of different stories as they investigated the death of a 5-month-old boy.

Patricia Ann Wick, 48, is charged with murder, a Class AA felony; abuse of a child, a Class B felony; and operating a family child care home without a license, a Class B misdemeanor. She pleaded not guilty to all three charges Tuesday, Feb. 7.

Court documents say the Carrington Police Department and Carrington Ambulance responded to Reed's home day care at 438 2nd St. S., Carrington, shortly before 2 p.m. Sept. 26 for a report that an infant was unresponsive and CPR was in progress.

The infant was flown to Sanford Medical Center in Fargo, where he died from his injuries on Sept. 28.

In the criminal complaint filed last week, investigators said Wick told them she may not have been gentle with 5-month-old Reed Nelson in September and that she was frustrated with him that day.


According to court documents, after Wick noticed the boy was unresponsive, she called the boy's mother, who then came over and performed CPR.

According to a recently obtained cease and desist order filed the day after the boy's death, Wick gave two other stories to investigators.

First, she reportedly told police the week before Nelson died she tripped over a kitchen chair while holding the child, who then took the "brunt of the fall" onto the floor.

Court documents indicate the incident was never reported to the child's parents.

The day of the boy's death, Wick told investigators she shook the fussy child, but only "one, two times," court documents said. When she found the infant was unresponsive, she may have patted him too hard on the back, she said in court documents.

The medical examiner determined Nelson died from blunt force trauma to the head and neck and ruled the death was a homicide.

The child abuse charge stems from an incident two weeks before the alleged murder, when a 6-year-old boy fell off a swing set and broke his arm, but she allegedly never got the boy help.

Investigators said the swing set was not secured to the ground.


Court documents allege Wick was not licensed and caring for nine to 12 children inside her home, which is over state limit of five.

Detectives say they found paperwork that the North Dakota Department of Human Services informed Wick of the regulations, but she never applied for a license.

Investigators also noted there was no fence around her property, which sits along Highway 52, a busy truck route.

If convicted, Wick faces life in prison. She remains in custody at the Stutsman County Correctional Center on $500,000 bail.

Matt Henson is an Emmy award-winning reporter/photographer/editor for WDAY. Prior to joining WDAY in 2019, Matt was the main anchor at WDAZ in Grand Forks for four years. He was born and raised in the suburbs of Philadelphia and attended college at Lyndon State College in northern Vermont, where he was recognized twice nationally, including first place, by the National Academy for Arts and Science for television production. Matt enjoys being a voice for the little guy. He focuses on crimes and courts and investigative stories. Just as often, he shares tear-jerking stories and stories of accomplishment. Matt enjoys traveling to small towns across North Dakota and Minnesota to share their stories. He can be reached at and at 610-639-9215. When he's not at work (rare) Matt resides in Moorhead and enjoys spending time with his daughter, golfing and attending Bison and Sioux games.
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