Bemidji Fire Volunteer charged with first degree assault on an infant

A Bemidji man, who has worked as a paid on-call volunteer firefighter with the Bemidji Fire Department, is facing charges of first degree assault.

A warrant for his arrest was filed Wednesday, and 21-year-old Levi James Knutson was in custody as of 11:25 p.m.

According to the complaint, Bemidji Police Officers responded to the Sanford Bemidji Emergency Room on April 1, for a report of a six-week-old infant having multiple fractures and broken bones.

The baby was ultimately taken to the Sanford Hospital in Fargo, with doctors diagnosing fractures on both femurs, both clavicles, both tibias, left humerus, left fibular; a torn frenulum and a “failure to thrive.”

A follow up bone survey on April 17 noted healing on four rib fractures.

The complaint says medical records ruled out birth related injuries or underlying genetic issues, and that the injuries are consistent with non-accidental trauma, as the six-week-old baby is non-mobile and incapable of causing the injuries to himself.

The child is at risk for possible growth disturbance and deformity, and limb length discrepancy due to the multiple fractures in the legs, according to Dr. Brian Sauer.

Knutson, in an interview, reportedly confessed to the brutalization of his children, the then-six-week-old infant son and his now 17-month-old daughter.

Knutson, according to the complaint, demonstrated his actions in the interview on a doll, and likened the abuse of the infant to treating him “like a Stretch Armstrong doll.”

Knutson confessed to choking the infant, throwing the infant into his swing, and bending his limbs.

Knutson stated that “his intention was to let out the anger and range and his children just happened to be the victims.”

The 17-month-old daughter had a skeletal survey, which showed growth arrest lines to bilateral tibial proximal and distal metaphyses and the distal radii. The records note these injuries could be caused from previous malnutrition, infection or injury. The child’s mother, according to the complaint, indicated the child had never been malnourished.


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