Willmar juvenile faces 15 charges in crime spree
WILLMAR -- A 17-year old Willmar boy was charged Friday with 15 criminal counts for his alleged role in a two-week crime spree that included a fire earlier this week that left a Willmar family homeless.
During an initial appearance as a juvenile in Kandiyohi County District Court, Andrew Wyman was charged with 12 felonies, one gross misdemeanor and two misdemeanors.
The charges include first-degree arson of a home and the theft of four pickups, including two trucks that were doused with gasoline and torched and one that was rigged to run without a driver and then crashed into a tree on a busy Willmar street.
Other charges of burglary, theft, criminal damage to property and receiving stolen property were also filed.
Chase Hodapp, 20, of Willmar, is also facing charges with the series of crimes. He's expected to make his first court appearance on Monday.
The two were arrested Wednesday in Waite Park on unrelated charges.
Wyman, who appeared in court wearing blue jeans and T-shirt, is currently being held in the Prairie Lakes Youth Program detention center in Willmar.
Felony cases against 16- and 17-year-old juveniles are public record.
The Kandiyohi County Attorney's office filed a motion Friday to have Wyman certified as an adult.
In a brief statement before Judge Bruce Christopherson, Assistant Kandiyohi County Attorney Shane Baker stressed the seriousness of the charges, especially the house fire. Two adults and five children in the home escaped the early morning fire only because smoke detectors alerted them to the blaze.
"They might have died," Baker said.
The court will hear arguments on June 6 regarding the petition to have Wyman charged as an adult.
If that happens, Wyman would face the "same sanctions imposed on adults who have committed similar crimes," according to a statement from the county attorney's office.
The arson charge is a "severity level VIII felony" which carries a guideline penalty of prison time, which triggered the adult certification petition.
Wyman's public defender, Carter Greiner, asked the court to grant Wyman a one-day furlough so that he could attend his grandmother's funeral Tuesday in Fridley.
Baker objected to the request, calling Wyman a continued threat to his victims, even if he were to be released for a short time. Not being able to attend his grandmother's funeral would be "one of many consequences" Wyman would experience because of his actions, Baker said.
Greiner said Wyman presented a "zero" threat because he would be under the direct supervision of his mother who's "prepared to give her word and guarantee" that her son would be returned to the detention center after the funeral.
Greiner said Wyman told him he "wouldn't run because he doesn't have a place to run" and because he intends to address the accusations.
After taking the request under advisement, Christopherson later issued a memorandum denying the request.
"While the court is sensitive to the benefit of the juvenile's participation, the court does not find that the parents could reliably provide the security required while otherwise occupied at such an emotional time," wrote Christopherson.
Wyman mother, who sat next to her son during the court appearance, hugged Wyman at one point as the two quietly cried.
According to the complaint, the crime spree started April 19 when Willmar police investigated a driverless truck that crashed into a tree on 19th Avenue Southwest.
During interviews with police, Wyman allegedly said he and Hodapp took the truck from a Willmar residence and ditched items from the vehicle as they drove into the country. They made a stop at a farm where Wyman allegedly struck a pig on the side of the head with a golf club.
They then drove back to Willmar and rigged the truck by putting a block of wood on the gas pedal. The complaint said the truck traveled 40 to 45 mph and could have crashed into a house if the tree hadn't stopped it.
The next incident was reported April 24 when a truck stolen from Willmar was found gutted by fire in Swift County. Wyman told police he was the last one to drive the truck before he and Hodapp lit it on fire.
Another truck that was stolen from a Willmar residence was discovered April 25 in a rural ditch. The interior of the truck was doused with gasoline and burned down to the frame, according to the complaint. The two allegedly drove the truck until the transmission went out and they poured gas on it and lit it on fire.
On May 1, a truck that had been stolen from Willmar was found in Renville County. The truck was heavily damaged. Both Wyman and Hodapp allegedly told police they ditched that vehicle and stole another truck and headed back to Willmar.
May 3 was a busy day for the duo, according to the allegations.
At 4:34 a.m. police responded to a report that a garage had been broken into and a Chevy Suburban was damaged with spray paint and other chemicals. Items from the garage were also missing.
At 4:45 a.m. authorities were called to a report of arson that destroyed an attached garage and two vehicles and caused damage to the side of a home. The complaint says the two went into the garage to get gas out of the van parked there. They cut the gas line of the vehicle and collected gas in containers. When they switched containers, the gas flowed onto the floor of the garage. They allegedly used lighters to ignite the blaze and then left the scene.
At 6:12 a.m. Kandiyohi County sheriff's deputies took a complaint of theft from Spicer Super Stop, where the car wash coin box had been pried open. A surveillance camera at the car wash allegedly shows the two damaging the box and stealing money.
According to statements in the complaint, Wyman and Hodapp allegedly acknowledged involvement in all of the incidents, indicating at times that they were walking around town looking for a vehicle to steal. It appears that keys were left in the vehicles, which made the thefts easier.
When asked why he spray painted a house while the neighboring garage was burning, Hodapp allegedly told police that he was "bored" and wanted something to do.