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Teen charged in burglary after DNA analysis

WILLMAR -- A 19-year-old Spicer teen made his first court appearance Monday on five felony charges for allegedly breaking into a Willmar home, causing the pipes to freeze, burst and cause water damage, and taking $10,000 in property, including a gun.

According to the juvenile petition against Mathew James Zuroff, analysis of a blood sample taken from the scene of the crime implicates him as the burglar. The analysis was completed by the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.

Zuroff's next appearance in Kandiyohi County District Court is a certification hearing on Sept. 13. He faces charges of first-degree burglary and property damage, second-degree burglary and theft as a juvenile because the crime allegedly happened on or after Jan. 19, 2008. Felony charges against 16- and 17-year-olds are public record.

According to the petition, Willmar police were called Feb. 1, 2008, to a home in the city's northwest quadrant. A couple had just returned from a vacation that started on Jan. 19 and found their home had been burglarized. Someone had entered through a utility room window and the cold air entering the room had caused the water pipes to freeze and burst. The leaking pipes had caused about $11,000 in damage including saturated carpet, damaged drywall and broken water softener and water meter.

Every drawer of the home had been gone through and items were strewn about the home. Missing items included jewelry, a shotgun, a jar of coins, a leather jacket, ammunition, a television, computer, DVD player, tuner, computer and screen and multiple DVDs.

The total amount of damage and missing property was $21,497.86, according to the homeowners' insurance company.

Officers found dried blood on several items, including a freezer and gun safe that had been moved during the burglary. Samples were taken and sent to the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, which matched the convicted offender sample on file from Zuroff. The teen has three prior juvenile adjudications for burglary and adjudications for property damage and motor vehicle theft in January of this year.

Gretchen Schlosser

Gretchen Schlosser is the public safety reporter, and writes about agriculture occasionally, for the West Central Tribune. She's been with the Tribune since 2006 and has 17 years of experience working in news, media and communications. 

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