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Search warrant IDs Clarkfield, Minn., woman questioned in S.D. homicide

GRANITE FALLS -- Authorities are investigating whether a Clarkfield woman is the mother of the two newborns whose remains were found last fall in eastern South Dakota.

A search warrant in the homicide case was executed Aug. 13 for DNA swabs from Kelly Jean Anderson, 34, of Clarkfield, formerly of Hendricks, to establish her as the mother, court documents filed Monday show.

According to the search warrant and supporting affidavit filed in District Court in Yellow Medicine County, various people reported to South Dakota law enforcement after the fetal remains were discovered that Anderson had appeared pregnant at two different times but did not later have a baby. Authorities also have preliminary DNA analysis that Anderson cannot be excluded as the mother of the two infants, according to the affidavit.

The exact cause of death could not be determined, the affidavit says, but the "manner of death" based on all of the various analyses by himself and others has been classified a homicide by forensic pathologist Dr. Kenneth Snell in Sioux Falls, S.D., due to "the nature in which the remains were discovered." There were remains discovered in a cooler with towels and a garbage bag, and there were remains discovered on the ground near the cooler and other towels and another trash bag, according to the affidavit.

The documents filed Monday detail that, in addition to the DNA swab, authorities during the Aug. 13 search were seeking photos of Anderson in a state of pregnancy between 2008 and 2011 and photos of her wearing a South Dakota State University shirt found with the remains. The warrant also details a search for literature, notes or computer searches related to pregnancy, self-delivery, home delivery, abortion, concealing pregnancy and disposing of human remains. An inventory list shows more than a dozen items were seized.

Anderson also was interviewed that day at the Clarkfield home, and after about 90 minutes, she produced a handgun and pointed it at herself. The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension said in a statement Friday that agents from the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation and a Brookings, S.D., police officer were conducting the interview. An agent and the officer struggled with her and the gun fired, but no one was injured, the BCA said.

No charges had been filed in that matter as of last week.

The search warrant says Kelly Jean Anderson is also known as Kelly Jean Johnson and Kelly Jean Anderson-Person. There is no one by any of those names in Yellow Medicine County custody currently, and there is no record in the Minnesota courts database of any current charges against Anderson under any of those names. A search shows no Minnesota criminal record -- only a petty misdemeanor fine paid in Lincoln County for a May 2012 case for operating an unlicensed day care.

The South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation has been conducting the homicide investigation since the November discovery of the remains in a tree grove on farmland by Fish Lake. The Deuel County land near Astoria, S.D., is owned by a family member of Anderson, and there is a cabin there which she has permission to use, according to the affidavit.

The search warrant affidavit says Anderson told South Dakota agents in a December interview that she had moved from Hendricks to Clarkfield shortly before she was married in June of 2012. Prior to that, she had lived most of her life in Hendricks, which the affidavit notes is about 8 miles from Fish Lake.

The affidavit details various leads that pointed to Anderson after the discovery of the remains, including from people who said they had talked to her about appearing pregnant. One person reported Anderson saying she had a tumor removed, another that she said she was simply fat and not pregnant, and another that she said she had suddenly lost weight due to illness.

During the December interview, she denied being pregnant in 2009 or in 2011, the affidavit states. She said she had gained and lost some weight, and she denied ever saying she had a tumor. She denied that the babies found on her family member's property were hers and said there was zero chance the DNA in the babies' bones would be connected to her, according to the affidavit.

The DNA swab was successfully collected Aug. 13, the inventory documents show, and the affidavit states the DNA swab would be sent to the University of North Texas Center for Human Identification to establish Anderson as the mother of the two infants.

Using a DNA profile of Anderson from a paternity case, the University of North Texas had earlier determined that she could be not excluded as the mother of the two newborns. The testing could not determine conclusively that the two newborns were siblings, but they may be maternal relatives, the affidavit states.

The University of North Texas also determined the babies were a male and a female. According to the affidavit, the results showed the male is 77 times more likely to be the child of Anderson than that of an unrelated Caucasian individual. The female is 19 times more likely to be Anderson's child than that of an unrelated Caucasian individual.

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