Former Watson mayor faces burglary charges
WATSON -- The former mayor of Watson is facing charges of first- and second-degree burglary in Chippewa County District Court for allegedly breaking into the current mayor's home Sunday.
WATSON - The former mayor of Watson is facing charges of first- and second-degree burglary in Chippewa County District Court for allegedly breaking into the current mayor’s home Sunday.
Former mayor Joseph Mark Rongstad, 34, lives across the street from current Watson Mayor Kyle Jones, according to the criminal complaint.
West Central Tribune archives show Rongstad was elected mayor of Watson in 2012, and Jones was elected mayor in 2014.
According to court documents, Jones said Rongstad believes the city of Watson “has a conspiracy going against him.”
Rongstad was in custody at the Yellow Medicine County Jail in Granite Falls as of Wednesday night. Court records show a bail hearing was conducted Tuesday, and the next court hearing in the case is scheduled March 21.
Chippewa County sheriff’s deputies were called to Jones’ home around 7:30 a.m. March 13 after Jones reported an apparent break-in. Believing he was targeted for being the current mayor, Jones named Rongstad as a possible suspect, the criminal complaint states.
A Minnesota State Patrol trooper was the first to arrive at the scene and found no intruders in the home, but told a sheriff’s deputy that many items appeared to be out of place.
According to the complaint, Jones told a deputy that his family had returned home at 1 a.m. that morning and around 3:30 a.m., an intruder had pushed his daughter’s bedroom door open and said audibly, “oops, sorry.”
Jones’ wife also reported hearing an intruder in the house around 7:30 that morning, and noticed desk drawers, electrical cords and other items from their home office had been strewn in the hallway.
A computer case containing city documents and Kyle Jones’ computer had also been moved from the office. A lanyard with keys and a black shirt were found upstairs, neither of which Jones says belonged to him or his family.
The state trooper and sheriff’s deputy found Rongstad sleeping in a pickup truck across the street, behind the garage at his home.
They woke Rongstad up, and he allegedly told them he had been fixing his trucks to sell them and move to Brainerd.
He denied entering Jones’ house earlier that morning, but added that he did not remember, the complaint states.
Rongstad affirmed that the keys on the recovered lanyard belonged to him, and a deputy was able to start Rongstad’s red Ford truck with one key from the lanyard.
The deputy arrested Rongstad on the scene.
During booking at the Yellow Medicine County Jail, authorities found on Rongstad’s person a Swiss army knife with “Kyle Jones” written on it and a set of keys later identified as belonging to Jones, the complaint says.
Rongstad is also facing charges for reckless discharge of a firearm and disorderly conduct, stemming from a February incident when he allegedly fired a rifle through the sunroof of his truck, claiming he was “trying to get away from the corpses that were after him.”
His next hearing in that case is set for April 25.