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Nicole Finn text to ex: 'Natalie needs to go' after daughter got money from neighbors for food


LEE ROOD   | The Des Moines Register

Nicole Finn admitted in a text message after daughter Natalie died last October that she erred in not seeking help for three children she is accused of confining and slowly starving.

But the mother of five, who ignored social workers' offers for services for the troubled children she'd adopted, also texted her ex-husband saying she blamed Human Services workers and police for not "helping us sooner if we needed it."

Chris Morgan, the West Des Moines detective who investigated Natalie Finn's Oct. 24, 2016, death, read more than two-dozen damning texts Friday as prosecutors wrapped up their wrenching murder and kidnapping case against Nicole Finn, 43, at the Polk County courthouse.

The texts suggested that Nicole Finn was fed up with three of her four adopted children still at home and that she eventually refused to feed them unless their behavior changed.

All of Finn's adopted children had diagnosed mental health issues. But two, Jaden and Mikayla, testified that Nicole Finn confined them with Natalie to a bedroom last year, installed an alarm on their door and wouldn't let them leave without her permission.

Then they say their mother, a pet rescue operator who suffered from fibromyalgia and lupus, was seldom available and often ignored their need to eat or use the restroom.

School officials tried several times to get Iowa's Department of Human Services to intervene, including after Natalie was accused of stealing from a teacher for food last spring and then again after she failed to come back to school last fall.

A social worker testified she offered Nicole a mix of services, but Nicole and her children were uncooperative when she and police visited the house last August.

Some texts entered into evidence Friday:

  • On June 6, 2016, Nicole texted her ex-husband, Joe, after Natalie, Jaden and Mikayla sneaked out of the home through a window, got money from a neighbor and went to stores to buy food. "It's so bad ... Natalie needs to go, and now."
  • On June 10, 2016, Nicole texted Joe after Natalie went to neighbors seeking money for food. "But you realize we have to put this on her and tell DHS she's been stealing at school and trying to control her siblings and teaching them to con."
  • On June 11, 2016, Nicole texted Joe to say Natalie had "to go out for more food because I didn't give them enough. Does she know how dumb that sounds?"
  • On July 26, 2016, she texted Joe to say their 15-year-old son, Jaden, urinated on himself again while she was sleeping. "I told all of them they are not coming out to eat again until they shower and wash their clothes!! … I am not going near them because they won't talk to me about what they are doing and what will fix it. Especially Jaden who appears to really be mentally insane."
  • On Aug. 17, 2016, after police and a social worker got a court order to enter Nicole's house, the mother texted Joe: "Oh yeah. Now it's on. They tore up the beds during their illegal search. You realize, she probably told the police that there was a report that the kids were locked in the basement so that they would try so hard to come in. B----!"
  • On Sept. 25, 2016, Nicole Finn texted Joe that she wasn't going to bring the children out of their room to eat again until they shower. "I have a headache from smelling them. The house stinks!!!"
  • On Oct. 15, 2016, Nathan Finn, then 15, texted his mother that Natalie needed to eat that day. "Oh yeah! For sure. That's what she's supposed to be doing," Nicole texted back. "I can't tell if ur being sarcastic," Nathan texted back. 
  • On Oct. 25, 2016, the day after Natalie died, Nicole texted Nathan to say she "f----d up. I should've just taken her in. What the hell did I do!? She hated me that much?"
  • Another said: "I can't stop thinking about cpr. I didn't do it right. I should've learned it." Nathan responded: "It wasn't are (stet) fault. It was hers."

Just one witness, a mental health expert, is scheduled to testify for the defense when the case resumes Monday.

Defense lawyers have not said whether Nicole Finn herself will testify.

2017 Dec 8