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Clarkfield, Minn., woman agrees to civil commitment

MONTEVIDEO — The woman who authorities say is the mother of two newborns whose remains were found last fall in South Dakota has voluntarily agreed to commitment for treatment of mental illness.

Kelly Jean Anderson-Person, 34, of Clarkfield, formerly of Hendricks, voluntarily agreed to a civil commitment for mental illness during a closed hearing Friday afternoon in District Court in Montevideo, her attorney said following the hearing.

Anderson-Person could be held for up to six months based on an order issued by District Judge Thomas Van Hon, according to attorney Theresa Patock of Willmar, who represents her. It also leaves open the possibility for an additional six months of commitment, according to information from Patock and from Amanda Sieling and Stacy Vinberg, assistant Yellow Medicine County attorneys.

Yellow Medicine County petitioned for civil commitment after Anderson-Person pulled a handgun and pointed it at her head while being questioned Aug. 13 regarding the two infants' remains found in Deuel County in South Dakota. South Dakota authorities have ruled the case a homicide, according to a search warrant affidavit filed in Yellow Medicine County.

Anderson-Person has been questioned at least twice in the homicide investigation, the affidavit states. The petition for commitment states that Anderson-Person told South Dakota investigators during the interview on Aug. 13 at her Clarkfield home that she gave birth to the two infants whose remains were recovered on a family member's property near Astoria, S.D. The documents say she also acknowledged during that interview being pregnant in 2009 and 2011.

Toward the end of the Aug. 13 interview, Anderson-Person pulled a handgun from under a couch cushion and pointed it at her head while holding her 9-month-old child, the petition for commitment states. The investigators wrestled the gun from her and it discharged into the ceiling. Anderson-Person had been held since that day at Rice Memorial Hospital in Willmar.

She was transported to a facility in Annandale following the hearing Friday afternoon.

The hearing was closed to the public, and the judge's order won't be available until Tuesday when court administration offices are open again. A report to be filed from the hearing will not be released to the public by order of the judge, according to court personnel.

Commitment hearings are described in state statute as public, but judges have wide latitude to exclude anyone from attending.

The closed proceedings on Friday also included a hearing on custody of the 9-month-child Anderson-Person was holding at the time of the gun incident. The court placed the child in the father's custody, according to Patock.

The hearings dealt only with the civil commitment and child custody issues, and no further information was provided on the criminal investigation into the deaths of the two children.

Chippewa County sheriff's officers on Friday escorted Anderson-Person to the second floor of the courthouse, where she met with her attorney prior to the hearing. Dressed in black capri pants and a teal blouse, she appeared composed but later emerged from the courtroom fighting tears.

Yellow Medicine County authorities, in conjunction with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, are investigating the alleged gun incident in Clarkfield, but no criminal charges have been filed.

The South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation is leading the homicide investigation following the discovery of the remains. The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is also involved in the homicide investigation. No charges have been filed.

DNA swabs were collected from Anderson-Person on Aug. 13 in order to establish her as the mother of the newborns, and items seized from her home included camera, computer and cellphone equipment, the search warrant inventory filed in Yellow Medicine County states.

The warrant detailed a search for photos of her appearing pregnant and a search for literature, notes or computer searches related to pregnancy, self-delivery, home delivery, abortion, concealing pregnancy and disposing of human remains.

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

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