Tad Vezner / St. Paul Pioneer Press
LAKE ELMO, Minn.—When former Washington County sheriff detective Jesse Kurtz read about a recent state effort to get family members of the missing to come forward, his mind drifted three decades back. "This thing has haunted me," Kurtz says. "I think of her almost every day." The 'thing' Kurtz is talking about is the 1988 disappearance of 19-year-old Susan Swedell from a Lake Elmo gas station, which remains unsolved to this day. Thousands of other Minnesotans have gone missing, before and since. But the case was a first for state officials in a big way.
ST. PAUL — It was anything but angry. Or solemn. There was, in fact, a spirited mix of sadness and joy during the first of several remembrances of Philando Castile on Thursday, a year from the day he was fatally shot by police. Amid grilled hot dogs, dancing and kids playing on a nearby bouncy castle, Castile's former girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds laid gifts on a table: a mix of donated clothes and kids toys she had received, more than she could possibly use. Gifts for the 100 or so guests.
ST. PAUL — Minnesota's annual statewide crime statistics, released this week, reveal no big changes in the overall violent crime rate. But they do report a record-tying year of fatal police shootings, and a striking jump in sex-trafficking arrests in 2016. Violent crimes — including murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assaults — increased 0.9 percent last year compared with the previous year, according to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. The BCA tracks data reported to it directly from the state's law enforcement agencies.
CHASKA, Minn. — The family of a woman who was shot and killed by a Chaska police officer after a high-speed car chase on U.S. Highway 212 two years ago has agreed to a $1.75 million settlement — some of which the city will have to pay on its own. "This was a bad shooting. There's no ifs, ands or buts about it," said Minneapolis attorney Robert Bennett, who is representing the family of Dawn Marie Pfister, killed along with her boyfriend on the Eden Prairie highway in February of 2015.
ST. PAUL—A group of sexual abuse survivors engaged in bankruptcy court mediation with the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis has overwhelmingly rejected the archdiocese's proposed bankruptcy reorganization plan, which includes how much it should pay victims. The archdiocese and a group of survivors — the largest class of the archdiocese's "creditors" in the bankruptcy court — have submitted opposing plans over how much the archdiocese should offer survivors for abuse that occurred at the hands its clergy.
ST. PAUL—The St. Paul man accused of being a serial rapist who terrorized the city's East Side last year was convicted of assaulting the first of his four accusers. Larry Griffin, 39, was found guilty of two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct in Ramsey County District Court on Tuesday. In August, Griffin picked up a woman walking alone in the evening on Payne Avenue. Payne is a busy street in the city's Payne-Phalen neighborhood, which in recent years has experienced a restaurant and residential renaissance.
ST. PAUL—The judge who will preside over the trial of St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez has outlined what behavior he will tolerate in his courtroom — including a ban on any facial expressions in reaction to testimony. An order signed by Ramsey County District Judge William Leary III this week makes some common stipulations, such as not allowing anyone to talk to jurors. It also reserves a row of seats each for the families of Yanez and Philando Castile, the motorist he is accused of shooting to death during a traffic stop this past summer.
ST. PAUL—She said she just wanted a ride to her boyfriend's home — before the man who picked her up pulled a gun and raped her. The man's attorneys argued the sex was consensual. The woman's tearful testimony Wednesday highlighted the first day of trial for Larry Griffin in Ramsey County District Court. He is accused of sexually assaulting four people in St. Paul last fall, three of them with a gun. Wednesday's was the first of several trials the 39-year-old St. Paul man faces.
ST. PAUL — Compass Airlines — which flies for Delta Air Lines out of the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport — intends to move possibly hundreds of workers to the West Coast by the end of the year. Workers were told recently that the airline would move all its pilots, flight attendants and mechanics from the Twin Cities to the company's other crew bases in Seattle and Los Angeles. Compass said its corporate office will remain in the Twin Cities.
ST. PAUL—Debate on a controversial "anti-protest" bill erupted into a heated clash about race on the Minnesota Capitol's House floor this week — including an accusation of a concurrent "white male card game" in a back room — leaving legislators asking for apologies all around, and getting none.