Accused burglars picked the wrong target: the Yellow Medicine County sheriff


GRANITE FALLS — Two burglary suspects are in custody after a homeowner's home security system alerted him that a vehicle was in the driveway of his rural home while his 12-year-old son was home alone. The homeowner hopped into his squad car, contacted his son en route and shortly afterward, pulled the suspects over on a rural roadway and with gun drawn, took them into custody with the help of a sheriff's deputy and the Granite Falls police chief. Michael Allen Chenoweth, 36, of Springfield, and Ashley Dawn Schultz, 29, of Marshall, are currently held in the Yellow Medicine County Jail, where the homeowner they are accused of burglarizing is the sheriff. The court on Thursday set bail at $150,000 unconditional and $100,000 with conditions for Chenoweth and at $150,000 unconditional and $75,000 with conditions for Schultz. Both suspects are charged in Yellow Medicine County District Court with felony counts of first- and third-degree burglary. According to allegations in a criminal complaint, Sheriff Bill Flaten was at the Yellow Medicine County Sheriff's Office at 9:38 a.m. Wednesday when he received notification from an application on his cell phone that his home camera detected activity in the driveway of his home outside of Granite Falls. The phone showed a silver vehicle in his driveway and a male with a hoodie walking up to his front door. The sheriff contacted his son, who peeked out a window and confirmed that a car was there. The sheriff watched on his phone as a male and a female walked out of his detached garage with armloads of stuff back to the car. His son texted that the car drove north on 510th Street. The sheriff was proceeding west on County Road 34 and spotted the suspect vehicle going north. The chief deputy was driving a separate squad vehicle and the sheriff turned onto 510th Street heading south toward the suspects. He activated his lights and pulled the suspects over. According to the complaint, he approached the vehicle with his duty weapon pointed at the vehicle and ordered the two occupants out of the car. They obeyed his commands, and the two were taken into custody with the help of Chief Deputy Wayne DeBlieck and Granite Falls Police Chief Brian Struffert, who also had reached the site. In the suspects' car, the officers found a variety of Dewalt power tools and battery charger, a game camera, a depth finder, and other items, some with the name "Flaten'' inscribed on them and all missing from the sheriff's garage, according to details in the complaint. Also found in the car was drug paraphernalia including a syringe, digital scale, glass pipe and powdery residue all believed to belong to the suspects. When taken into custody, Chenoweth had a folding knife clipped to his front pants pocket, and a fixed blade knife and sheath tied to his belt. A knife was located on Schultz when she was booked into the jail. Court records show that Chenoweth has a lengthy criminal history, with convictions in Kandiyohi, Swift, Aitkin, Chippewa, Cottonwood, Redwood and Renville counties for offenses including third- and fifth-degree drug possession, theft, disorderly conduct, damage to property, driving while impaired, driving after revocation, and failure to stop after an accident. Schultz has a prior criminal history including convictions in Lyon, Lac qui Parle and Yellow Medicine counties for methamphetamine possession involving children, disorderly conduct and driving after suspension and current cases pending in Chippewa and Lyon counties for charges including fifth-degree drug possession and motor vehicle and insurance violations.