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Police search swath of area after man calls in own crime

CLARA CITY -- A 43-year old man is in custody in Chippewa County after allegedly sexually assaulting a 17 year-old girl and then reporting the crime on a cell phone while in a corn field.

The man triggered a manhunt and rescue effort by also reporting he had stabbed himself.

The man, facing formal charges today, called the Chippewa County sheriff's dispatch around 5:30 a.m., according to Clara City Police Chief Ralph Bradley.

He allegedly told the dispatcher he had sexually assaulted the girl at a residence, fled into a corn field with a knife and stabbed himself. His description of the area indicated he was near Raymond.

The cell phone call triggered a search that brought out the Upper Sioux Community canine unit along with responding officers from Clara City, Chippewa County and the State Patrol. Bradley said a call was also put in for a state helicopter to aid in the search.

The man's description of his surroundings and that he stated he'd seen a sign for Raymond led searches of multiple corn fields north of Clara City. However, further communication from the man led searchers to believe he was actually south of Minnesota Highway 7 near Maynard.

Officers spotted the suspect in a ditch south of Clara City. He was on the cell phone talking to the Chippewa County dispatcher. The dispatcher could hear the officers shout at him to drop his knife, Bradley said. He was placed under arrest without incident.

The officers recovered a serrated knife, similar to a steak knife. They found no signs of a stab wound or serious injury.

The man was found around 7:10 a.m. The helicopter sent back before it reached the site.

The alleged victim is being provided with help.

Tom Cherveny

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

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