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Commitment hearing set Friday for Clarkfield, Minn., woman who is mother of newborns found in S.D.

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GRANITE FALLS -- The Clarkfield woman interviewed earlier this month in a homicide investigation admitted giving birth to the two babies whose remains were discovered last fall in eastern South Dakota, court documents say.

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Kelly Jean Anderson-Person, 34, was interviewed Aug. 13 by two South Dakota investigators in the homicide case and now is subject to a civil commitment hearing after she pulled a gun and pointed it at her head with her right hand while she was holding her infant child in her left, according to civil commitment documents filed in Yellow Medicine County. She was disarmed in a struggle and no one was injured.

The petition for commitment filed by Yellow Medicine County Family Services states that Anderson-Person in an interview with investigators acknowledged being pregnant in 2009 and 2011 and acknowledged that the infant remains found in South Dakota were babies she had birthed. The document does not indicate whether there was discussion about how the babies died or about how the remains came to be located in a tree grove.

Anderson-Person, formerly of Hendricks and referred to as Kelly Anderson in other court documents, has been held at Rice Memorial Hospital in Willmar since Aug. 13. Originally held under an emergency admission, she waived her right to a preliminary hearing and will be held until the commitment hearing slated Friday, according to the civil commitment filings in Yellow Medicine County. Not all documents in the matter are in the public file.

The South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation has been leading the homicide investigation since the November discovery of the remains near Fish Lake. The Deuel County land in rural Astoria, S.D., is owned by a family member of Anderson-Person, and there is a cabin there which she has permission to use, according to a search warrant affidavit filed in Yellow Medicine County. The affidavit also detailed several leads investigators followed that she had appeared pregnant at two different times in recent years and did not later have a baby.

During a December interview with investigators in Clarkfield, Anderson-Person denied being pregnant during those times and denied any connection to the infant remains, the affidavit states. Subsequent investigation outlined in the affidavit provided authorities with preliminary DNA analysis that found Anderson-Person could not be excluded as the mother of the two term infants, one male and one female.

South Dakota authorities, with security assistance from the Yellow Medicine County Sheriff's Office, executed a search warrant Aug. 13 when DNA swabs were collected from Anderson-Person for use in identifying her as the mother, and the inventory also lists computer, camera and cellphone items that were seized.

Toward the end of the interview that day, Anderson-Person pulled a firearm from between the couch cushions and held it to her head, the commitment document states. The officers struggled with her, and the gun fired into the ceiling. According to the document, the officers were able to take the gun and then detained Anderson-Person.

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension in an earlier statement said it has been jointly investigating the gun incident and the homicide with South Dakota and local authorities.

No criminal charges had been filed against Anderson-Person in South Dakota as of Monday, according to a records check through the South Dakota Unified Judicial System database, and none had been filed in Minnesota as of Tuesday, according to a check of the online Minnesota Trial Court public access.

Yellow Medicine County Family Services is seeking involuntary hospitalization of Anderson-Person for mental illness. The petition to the court states that she is currently institutionalized and says that imminent physical harm could occur to herself or others if she does not remain so.

In addition to information from the two investigators, the commitment petition includes information from interviews conducted by a nurse practitioner at Rice Hospital and a social worker from Yellow Medicine County Family Services.

According to the petition, Anderson-Person said she had hidden the gun knowing that investigators were coming to her home. She stated, "I had a gun knowing this day would come," and also said she was overwhelmed by all the police officers surrounding her home.

She was holding her infant child but denied any thoughts of wanting to hurt either the infant or her older child, according to the petition. She said she did intend to kill herself.

Her husband told an interviewer that there had not been any previous mental health concerns. He said that he did not worry about her hurting the two children, but he was now worried she may harm herself and agreed with the current hospitalization, the petition states.

Her former husband earlier this year told criminal investigators that he was worried about both the children if she learned she was a suspect in the homicide, the search warrant affidavit states.

Her court-appointed attorney in the civil commitment proceeding is Theresa Patock of Willmar. Psychologist Edwin Yerka, who practices with Avera Medical Group in Marshall, has been appointed to examine her and file a report by today, ahead of Friday's hearing. Yellow Medicine County Family Services is represented by Keith Helgeson, the county attorney.

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Susan Lunneborg
Susan Lunneborg is news editor of the West Central Tribune. She joined the staff in Willmar in 1999 and has been a newspaper journalist for nearly 20 yearsShe can be reached directly at the email linked here, but for the most timely response, please send news releases to the Tribune's general news email: news@wctrib.com.
(320) 235-1150
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