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Clarkfield, Minn., woman who pulled gun was being interviewed in S.D. homicide

ST. PAUL -- A 34-year-old Clarkfield woman who pulled a gun Tuesday during a law enforcement interview was being questioned as part of a South Dakota homicide investigation.

The discovery last fall of the remains of two newborns in a shelterbelt in eastern South Dakota has been under investigation by the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation and the Deuel County, S.D., Sheriff's Office.

Agents of the Division of Criminal Investigation and a Brookings, S.D., police officer were interviewing the woman on Tuesday related to this ongoing investigation, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension said in a statement Friday.

The day after the woman was interviewed in Clarkfield, a news report from South Dakota said the mother of the newborns had been tracked down. South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley said in an Associated Press story that investigators had contacted the mother in Minnesota. He said he could not make additional comments until South Dakota and Minnesota prosecutors make final charging decisions.

The interview on Tuesday morning was conducted at a home in the 800 block of Ninth Avenue in Clarkfield in western Minnesota. The Yellow Medicine County Sheriff's Office was providing security assistance at the scene, and Sheriff Bill Flaten previously told the Tribune that the interview proceeded for about 90 minutes before the handgun was produced.

The BCA on Friday said the preliminary investigation shows that the woman -- who has not been named -- produced a handgun and pointed it at herself while being interviewed.Two of the South Dakota officers struggled with her and the handgun discharged. No one was injured, and no officer fired during the struggle, the BCA statement said.

Flaten told the Granite Falls Advocate Tribune in a story published Thursday that the South Dakota officers handled a difficult situation exceptionally well and in a professional manner.

BCA agents have interviewed the woman and the law enforcement officers involved, the BCA said Friday.

Authorities continue to evaluate possible charges against the woman.

Sheriff Flaten told the Tribune earlier this week that the woman was not in Yellow Medicine County custody but that she was in a secure facility and there was no danger to the public.

According to information released last year by the South Dakota Attorney General's office about the discovery of the remains, a cooler was found that contained decomposed tissue and bones later determined to be a term fetus. Additional remains were recovered outside the cooler and also determined to be a term fetus. The remains were found on Nov. 2 on private land near Astoria, S.D.

The information from the Attorney General said that expert reports determined each fetus was viable outside the uterus, having reached approximately 40 weeks of gestational age. In addition to autopsy reports, investigators had also been gathering information from a forensic anthropological report.

The BCA statement said the Minnesota agency is cooperating in joint investigations of both matters with the South Dakota DCI and Minnesota sheriff's offices.

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 more than 20 years. She 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:
(320) 235-1150