WILLMAR -- Longtime volunteer John Tradup was honored Friday for his service to the Willmar Area Crimestoppers.
Tradup, 76, former editor of the West Central Tribune, began working with Crimestoppers when it was formed in 1974, after the murder of Mae Herman in January of that year. The 73-year-old woman was found stabbed to death in her Willmar residence.
A family member of Herman donated the first $100 to the organization, which is still funded by donations. There remains a $5,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest and prosecution of Herman's killer.
There is also a $5,000 reward still available in the murder of Joseph "Scriver" Olson, 75, of rural Belgrade. The man was found dead in his home in February 1983.
Willmar Police Chief David Wyffels said Tradup has been a "driving force" behind the organization for 30 years and raised money so that Crimestoppers could offer rewards for crime tips.
Wyffels also took the opportunity to thank the community members who supported the organization over the years, whether they gave on a regular basis or occasionally. "Collectively, those donations are very beneficial," he said.
Crimestopper tips have been instrumental in helping both the police department and the Kandiyohi County Sheriff's Office solve crimes that may have not been solved otherwise, Wyffels said.
While the organization continues to take citizen tips on crime via a phone number, 320-235-3640, or a post office box, it is also taking tips via text message and email.
Citizens can now submit a crime tip by texting "willstopcrime" and their tip to 274637 (CRIMES), according to Willmar Police Officer Marilee Dorn, the crime prevention officer who works with the Crimestoppers group.
Tradup noted that the group gets more tips via text message than via the phone number.
"Witnesses to a crime are texting police," he said. "It's a vast improvement in fighting crime."
The group is looking for new members, who are encouraged to call the 320-235-3640 number to get information about joining the group. Dorn encourages young people to join, because they are more likely to be victims and perpetrators of crime and likely to see crime because they are out and about in the community.
Tradup wasn't the only Crimestoppers member to retire at the Friday meeting. Longtime volunteer Leland Nelson, 96, also announced his intent to retire from the organization.