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April 25, 2009

St. Paul Woman Sentenced to Three Years for Stabbing Boyfriend

A St. Paul woman was sentenced to more than three years in prison for stabbing her boyfriend in the heart after he flirted with another woman, reported the Star Tribune.

Corinna Jo Hernandez, 31, of Morton, Minn., pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree assault in February.

The incident occurred at a home in the 800 block of Sherburne Avenue in St. Paul’s Frogtown neighborhood after Hernandez and her boyfriend went to a SuperAmerica store on May 4.

A woman allegedly told Hernandez’s boyfriend, Theodore James Warren, that she found him attractive; Warren responded by saying he wished he could give her his number.

Hernandez later stabbed Warren at the home. Warren collapsed on the front lawn.

According to the Pioneer Press, when the police arrived on the scene, Hernandez reportedly said, “I killed him. I killed him, didn’t I? Can I have a cigarette before I go to prison for life?”

According to a Ramsey County District Court complaint, Warren had to be revived on the operating table. He survived the attack.

Hernandez was sentenced to three years and three months in the Minnesota Correctional Facility-Shakopee. She has currently credited 355 days of jail-time.

According to the Pioneer Press, she will serve her full time after completing her sentence for a previous Redwood County assault.

Body of Missing Anoka Man Found in Golf Pond

Anoka County authorities say that the body of a man who has been missing for one month was discovered dead Saturday in a golf course pond.

According to the Pioneer Press, the sheriff’s office said the body of Jelani Brinson, 24, was discovered at the Greenhaven Golf Course in Anoka after an employee reportedly saw a body floating in the course pond.

Brinson was last seen April 17 after leaving a friend’s home. Friends and family who had been looking for him had found his shoes along a railroad track nearby.

Police have not said whether there were any signs of foul play involved in Brinson’s death and that the cause of death is currently under investigation.

A brief dog hunt for Brinson that ended at a bar in Ramsey County turned up no evidence.

Ryan Wagner, who is an employee of the Greenhaven Golf Course, said that the pond is located between the 10th and 11th holes. Nine holes of the course in Anoka had been closed for most of the afternoon. (Star Tribune)

April 19, 2009

Bloomington Man Charged with Sexual Assault of 8-Year-Old Girl

A Bloomington man has been charged with first-degree criminal sexual assault after molesting two girls who played for a youth sports team that the offender coached.

Randy Lee Ronning, 36, was charged last week with two counts of first-degree criminal sexual assault after a witness saw Ronning inappropriately touching a young girl at a Bloomington Days Inn. (Star Tribune)

Ronning also allegedly assaulted another girl on the team at the hotel. The girls were aged nine and 10.

Ronning had been babysitting the girl, who was part of a floor hockey team he helped coach in early 2008. The team, which was comprised of girls aged eight to 10, was part of the Bloomington Athletic Association (BAA), an organization that Ronning had coached for since 2006 when he was a softball volunteer coach. (Pioneer Press)

According to the Star Tribune, the BAA said it did not go a background check on Ronning, who had been convicted in 1992 of fifth-degree criminal sexual conduct in Hennepin County.

Bloomington Police have since requested the rosters of teams Ronning’s had coached in the past, as well as have sent letters to the families so that they are aware of the incident. (Pioneer Press)

Ronning had been hired in June 1999 by the Bloomington public schools system as a school bus aide.

Though the sexual assault conviction had been on Ronnings’ record since 1992, his conviction “slipped by,” said Bloomington Schools spokesman, Rick Kaufman. (Star Tribune)

“Had that conviction shown up, I can guarantee you he would not have been hired to work in the district,” Kaufman said. (Star Tribune)

Instead, Kaufman said that the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension performs the school’s background checks and that no offenses by Ronning were found at that time.

Police said they would continue to work with the BAA to ensure that background checks are made on its employers and volunteer staff members.

Ronning is being held in the Hennepin County jail Thursday in lieu of $150, 000 bail and is unavailable for comment.

April 18, 2009

Maple Grove Man Charged with Animal Murder

A Maple Grove man has been charged with the mistreatment and abuse of his girlfriend’s cats after one cat had to be euthanized by veterinarians.

The Dakota County District Court charged Ryan J. Wolcott, 24, with the "abandonment of one or more cats, which is a misdemeanor, and with mistreatment of an animal, a felony.” (Star Tribune)

Two of the cats belonging to Wolcott’s girlfriend, who remained unnamed in court documents, disappeared after Wolcott moved in with her in early 2008. A third feline, a kitten was also allegedly mistreated by Wolcott when court documents state that Wolcott put pepper spray on his fingers and then rubbed the kittens’ eyes. (Pioneer Press)

The kitten also disappeared.

A fourth cat named Mayzie was brought to an Eagen veterinary clinic by Wolcott’s girlfriend when she found the cat unresponsive several days after a brutal beating in November that left the cat with severe head and abdominal injuries and bruising.

The incident, which resulted in the animal’s euthanization, prompted an investigation by the Eagen Animal Control Office after Wolcott’s girlfriend told the veterinary clinic she thought her boyfriend might be responsible.

Wolcott has since admitted to squeezing and hitting the cat against the side of the bathtub and possibly the faucet. (Star Tribune)

“I gave a cat a bath. Maybe I did it too hard. It wasn’t intentional,” Wolcott says. (Pioneer Press)

Wolcott’s next court appearance is May 18 in Hastings.

April 12, 2009

Suspect charged with Attempted Murder of Couple

An Eagan teen has been charged Friday with assault and attempted murder in connection with the stabbings of a Burnsville man and woman earlier this week, reported the Star Tribune.

The Dakota County attorney’s office charged 18-year-old Taylor Pass with two counts of second-degree attempted murder, one count of first-degree assault and two counts of second-degree assault in the stabbings that took place around 11:45 p.m. Tuesday. (Pioneer Press)

A criminal complaint filed in Dakota County District says that Pass stabbed Tina SanRoman, 35, and Odai Al-Refo, 24, in their backs and necks multiple times at a townhouse in the 1600 block of Riverwood Drive.

Both victims are at the Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis where SanRoman is in critical condition and Al-Refo is in stable condition.

Al-Refo, who told police he pays SanRoman to sleep on her couch, emerged from the shower to find the attacker assaulting SanRoman in the garage. As Al-Refo approached the scene, the attacker stabbed him in the neck before going to the kitchen to get another knife. The attacker returned and stabbed Al-Refo in the back. Al-Refo shielded himself with a child’s scooter before the attacker fled the scene in a green Ford Explorer. (Star Tribune)

Savage Police took Pass into custody within 20 minutes. A 9-year-old who was asleep in the house during the attack was not harmed.

Although police say they have not discovered a motive for the attack, the two victims are both acquainted with Pass.

Pass is currently being held in the Dakota County jail in lieu of $500,000 bail. His next court appearance is scheduled for May 4.

Body Found in River, Student Still Missing

As the search for missing University of St. Thomas freshman Dan Zamlen continues, Ramsey County authorities say they have discovered a body in the Mississippi River early Saturday morning.

According to the Pioneer Press, police said that the body is not Zamlen. Instead, an unidentified black female’s body has been recovered from the Mississippi River after being found caught in debris around 8:30 a.m. by employees of a barge company near the intersection of Childs and Shepard Roads.

St. Paul police spokesman, Peter Panos, said that the body matches the description of a woman who jumped from a nearby bridge a couple weeks ago. Her body has been sent to the Ramsey County medical examiner’s office for identification.

A friend last heard Zamlen, 18, on his cell phone one week ago as he left a party early Sunday morning. During the conversation, Zamlen suddenly said “Oh my God, oh my God,” before his phone cut out.

Zamlen is believed to have been at the intersection of Mississippi River Boulevard S. and St. Clair Avenue.

Police have stopped looking for Zamlen after searching the Mississippi River by boat and helicopter.Volunteers continue to look for Zamlen. (Star Tribune)

April 6, 2009

St. Thomas Freshman Missing After Walk Along River

A University of St. Thomas freshman is missing after last talking with a friend around 3 a.m. Sunday as he walked along the Mississippi River in St. Paul.

Daniel Zamlen, 18, who is from Eveleth, Minn., was talking to friend via phone when he suddenly said “Oh my God, oh my God,” and was heard from no more, according to family members.

Sally Zamlen, Daniel’s mother, said that the exclamation persuades family members to believe he might have fallen into the river.

University spokesman Jim Winterer said that it was unclear where Zamlen had been earlier in the night, but that “there’s some concern he might be in need of medical attention.” Zamlen, who has diabetes, wears an insulin pump. (Pioneer Press)

St. Paul police spokesman Pete Panos said that a police helicopter searched along the river while family and friends walked through the area with no results. A few vehicles from the St. Paul Fire Department arrived on the scene to help aid with the search.

According to the Star Tribune, Daniel’s father, Dale Zamlen, said that friends had told him his son had been at a party and left possibly upset about something, although what is currently unknown.

Panos said that there is no immediate reason to suspect foul play and that as an adult Zamlen has the right to be out of touch from family and friends.

“He’s a grown man and if he doesn’t want to talk to people, he doesn’t have to,” said Panos. “So we have to be careful.” (Pioneer Press)

Family members said that Zamlen’s phone had been accepting calls and messages until this morning, so it was still working for a while although no one answered.

Zamlen is described as being 6 feet tall and 175 pounds. He has blue eyes and blond hair and was last seen wearing blue jeans and a blue jacket. (Pioneer Press)

The University is asking that if anyone knows anything about Zamlen’s whereabouts or has any information on the situation that they contact its public safety department’s emergency line at 651-962-5555.

April 1, 2009

Craigslist Killer Convicted, Sentenced to Life Without Parole

A judge has sentenced Michael John Anderson this morning to life in prison without parole for the murder of a Minneapolis woman after he lured her to his parents’ house with a fake ad on Craigslist and shot her.

District Judge Mary Theisen gave Anderson, 20, the required sentence by law for first-degree murder convictions when a Scott County District Court jury found Anderson guilty of first- and second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter late Tuesday night, reported the Pioneer Press.

Prosecutors argued that Anderson had placed an ad on Craigslist for a nanny so that he could lure a woman to the home in order to kill her.

Katherine Ann Olson, 24, was the woman who answered Anderson’s ad.

Anderson’s attorney, Alan Margoles, said that Anderson “expresses his deepest regret for his actions.” (Pioneer Press)

Prosecutors felt differently. Theisen told Anderson that he had “shown no remorse or empathy,” and that she had no sympathy for him or his situation. She also said that she believed Anderson was a “coward” when he shot Olson as she was running away from him. (Star Tribune)

Margoles said that his client suffers from Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism. He believes that the ruling would have come out differently if jurors had been allowed to hear testimony on the illness. Before the trial, Theisen cited a state law that does not allow “diminished capacity” defenses and rejected the request.

Olson’s family said that the death of Katherine would forever mar their lives but it was something they would need to let go.

“I refuse to carry him around with me,” said Olson’s mother, Nancy Olson, of Anderson’s influence on her. “He is air to me. Others will have to pray for him.” (Pioneer Press)

On Oct. 25, 2007, Olson showed up at Anderson’s home in Savage in response to what she thought was a babysitting job. After Anderson shot her, he placed the body in the trunk of a car.

In addition to the life sentence, Theisen ordered that Anderson pay restitution of $6,500 from his prison wages to cover Olson’s funeral expenses.

March 29, 2009

Man Charged with Stalking Elementary Students

A Minneapolis man has been charged Friday by the Ramsey County attorney’s office with aggravated stalking after allegedly driving by a 13-year-old girl at least 20 times as she made her way to school Wednesday morning in St. Paul.

Ramon T. Pavon, 21, was arrested on Thursday after returning to the neighborhood in his van after an officer recognized the van’s license plate number that had been provided to the police by the girl.

According to a criminal complaint printed by the Pioneer Press, a St. Paul police officer was called to the Webster Magnet Elementary School in the Summit-University area after several children told staff a man had tried to lure them into a white van around 7:30 Wednesday morning.

Another 13-year-old girl corroborated the story, saying that the man had driven past her and a friend slowly, staring, and at one point had even yelled, “Hey, you,” out the window.

After his arrest, Pavon told officers that he had just dropped his wife off at work and had not been in the area the day before, when the initial complaint had been filed. Instead, Pavon said that his brother had taken his wife to work on Wednesday.

Investigators talked to Pavon’s wife, who told them that Pavon had taken her to work as usual and that his brother had not been with them.

After his arrest, Pavon continued to deny that he had been driving the van on Wednesday. When officers confronted Pavon with his wife’s statement, he changed his story, saying that he had been the one driving the van.

He also recognized that he had driven by Webster Magnet Elementary School and had looked at the girl. He admitted that “he had probably scared her,” but denied any attempt at kidnapping. (Star Tribune)

According to the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, Pavlon has no adult criminal record and was being held in Ramsey County Jail as of Friday.

Big Lake Man Suspected in Abduction and Shooting Commits Suicide

A Big Lake man has shot himself in the head Saturday after the suspected killing of his girlfriend’s son that resulted in the abduction of the woman and a car chase down Interstate 94.

Peter Tek, 42, of Big Lake, Minn., is believed to have shot and killed Savang Sath, 27, his girlfriend’s son, before abducting his girlfriend and fleeing from police. The chase ensued down a 2-mile stretch of the I-94 for one hour before Tek released his girlfriend and shot himself, said Sherburne County Sheriff Joel Brott.

Traffic had to be detoured around the scene for about two hours, police said. (Star Tribune)

Tek’s girlfriend suffered head injuries and is hospitalized, according to police. Tek’s brother, Cheth Tek, said that Peter Tek was divorced and had been living with his girlfriend and her son for four years in Big Lake.

According to Cheth Tek, Peter and his girlfriend, as well as another unidentified female, had got into an argument after returning to the family’s home at 1010 Eagle Lake Rd. from a party early Saturday morning.

Authorities said that a disagreement took place between Tek and Sath, which is when Tek is believed to have shot Sath twice. After holding the two women hostage for about 20 minutes, Tek abducted his girlfriend and began driving down Interstate 94 in a Lincoln Navigator.

Police were called shortly after the abduction. They found Sath’s body and were alerted to the type of car that Tek was driving.

Wright County officials spotted Tek’s car about 15 minutes after the alert at a gas station in Monticello. As County officials closed in on Tek, he got into the Lincoln Navigator and fled towards I-94, with deputies still chasing him.

After an hour had passed, Tek eventually pulled over to the side of the freeway. The police negotiated with Tek for an hour before he let his girlfriend go. Tek then shot himself in the head, dying immediately.

According to the Pioneer Press, a .45-caliber Taurus semiautomatic handgun that was found in the vehicle matched the shell casings from where Sath had been killed.

An investigation is ongoing and autopsies will be performed next week.

February 9, 2009

Royalton Superintendent Killed in Collision

Superintendent of the Royalton Public Schools was killed in a collision Saturday Night, reports the Star Tribune.

John P. Franzoia, 62, was rear-ended by a 49-year-old St. Cloud man around 6:15 pm Friday at the intersection of Highway 15 and Stearns County Road 1 near Sartell. (Star Tribune)

The driver who rear-ended Franzoia’s vehicle was in jail Saturday after officers detected alcohol while investigating the crash.

Phil Gurbada, principal of Royalton Elementary School, said that the news of the accident was “a major shock.? (Pioneer Press)

Franzoia worked for the Royalton school division, which is located mainly in Morrison Country, for about 23 years; he was a superintendent for 18 years and a high school principal for six.

February 5, 2009

U of M Gopher Groper Caught

After allegedly groping several women on the University of Minnesota campus, a 41-year-old man has been arrested and jailed for suspicion of criminal sexual conduct, reports the

The suspect, whose name was not released, was arrested Tuesday after a woman placed a call to University police around 8:30 pm claiming that she had just been molested by an unknown man just outside the McNamara Alumni Center.

Police said the suspect was last seen running in the direction of the Aquatics Center. Officers spotted a man who matched the description provided by the victim on the East Bank campus, where the man was arrested.

There have been at least nine other incidents since December that have resulted in women having their genitals grabbed by a man sometimes riding a bike.

As police were arresting the suspect, dispatchers told them that another groping incident had occurred 20 minutes prior to the 8:30 pm complaint on Washington Ave. Both victims, who are also students at the University, were shown the suspect where they identified him as their assailant.

While police were informing the suspect of possible criminal charges, the man confessed to the groping of 10 women near the University campus, police said. (Pioneer Press).

The suspect has been booked in to the Hennepin County Jail on suspicion of criminal sexual conduct. No formal charges have yet been made.

February 1, 2009

Colorado Man Threatens to Kill Obama, Blow up Mall of America

After making threats to kill President Barack Obama and blow up the Mall of America in Bloomington, a 20-year-old Colorado man has been indicted, reports the Star Tribune.

Timothy Ryan Gutierrez of Cortez, Colo., turned himself in to FBI offices in Durango after sending them an e-mail saying that he was “going to assassinate the new president of the United States of America. PS you have 48 hours to stop it from happening.? (Star Tribune)

Gutierrez also e-mailed the FBI, threatening to blow up the Mall of America: “I have rigged 40 pounds of C4 [a moldable plastic explosive] … and my favorite TNT to 7 cars outside the Mall of America.? (Star Tribune)

Mall of America officials were notified of the threat by the FBI and Bloomington police and determined that the threat was inauspicious after a daylong search.

Cortez Police Chief Roy Lane said that FBI agents actually went to Gutierrez’s apartment Jan. 12 after the reception of the e-mails and spoke to him, although it is now unclear why Gutierrez was not arrested.

“Both threats were taken seriously, and both threats were investigated immediately by the FBI,? said Jeff Dorschner, spokesman for U.S. Attorney Dave Gaouette. (Pioneer Press)

Gutierrez faces one count each of transmission of threats and of falsely threatening to use explosives. He was indicted by a federal grand jury on Tuesday in Denver.

Local Man Shot and Killed During Robbery, Trying to Protect Cousin

A St. Paul man was fatally shot early Saturday morning during a robbery attempt while trying to protect his brother, the Pioneer Press reported.

Jeffery Lamont Logan, 44, was gunned down in an alley behind the Attucks-Brooks American Legion Hall in St. Paul after three men tried to rob Logan’s cousin whom was with Logan at the time.

Police responded to a report of an attempted robbery and shooting around 1 a.m. in the St. Paul’s Summit-University neighborhood, where the Legion Hall was located.

Logan was found lying in the alley when paramedics arrived. They rushed Logan to the St. Paul’s Regions Hospital where he was officially declared dead.

Witnesses described the vehicle seen leaving the scene shortly after the shooting, allowing police to locate the vehicle only six blocks away from where the crime took place.

After a brief car chase that ended when the fleeing vehicle hit a planter at Laurel Avenue and St. Albans Street, police arrested three men. Ronald Hill, 20, of West St. Paul, Elston Marc Williamson, 28, of St. Paul, and Henry Mercello Reed, 27, of St. Paul were placed into the Ramsey Country jail where they await formal charges of homicide by the Ramsey County attorney’s office. (Star Tribune)

A native of St. Paul, family members say that Logan would most likely have given the robbers money had they asked for it.

“If you would have walked up to my brother and asked for $20, he would have gave it to you,? said Charles Walker, Logan’s brother. (Pioneer Press)