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News Briefs: Ex-wrestler found guilty in sex case, tried to run after verdicts were read

Editor's note: The following is a collection of news briefs from Forum Communication Company newspapers in Minnesota and North Dakota.


Ex-wrestler found guilty in sex case, tried to run after verdicts were read

WILLMAR, Minn. -- A former professional wrestler has been found guilty of 12 charges of criminal sexual conduct, and a judge will weigh several factors in determining the severity of the sentence.

The guilty verdicts were returned Wednesday against Eugene Otto Zumhofe, 62, of Cyrus, in Kandiyohi County District Court. The jury found Zumhofe guilty of six first-degree and six third-degree counts of criminal sexual conduct for molesting a close female relative over a period of years. The abuse began in 1999 when she was 15.

Zumhofe, a former wrestler known as “Buck Rock ’N’ Roll Zumhofe’’ in the 1980s and early 1990s, was taken into custody after the verdicts were read. He tried to run from the courthouse before being subdued by security officers.

He will be held pending sentencing on the sexual conduct convictions, and the Kandiyohi County Jail custody list now also notes a pending felony charge of escape from custody.

District Judge David Mennis heard arguments Thursday on aggravating factors, which could lead to a longer prison term. The factors include the particular cruelty of the abuse, Zumhofe’s history of sexual crimes and his pattern as a sex offender.

Sentencing is set for May 7.

Air pistol causes scare at UMD

DULUTH -- Police confiscated an air pistol and took two people into custody Thursday morning on the University of Minnesota Duluth campus.

Police were called to UMD at 7:17 a.m. about two people with a gun near the Kirby Plaza. Duluth Police Department spokesman Jim Hansen said the two males, ages 15 and 19, were soon in custody and an air pistol was confiscated.

UMD police they are are facing charges of disorderly conduct, underage consumption, and possession of drugs. The two are not UMD students.

They were seen in the lobby of the plaza where students come and go off city buses.

Police officers reached the boys as they were walking toward the science building at UMD.

The university sent out an alert to students and staff just before 8 a.m. advising them to “shelter in place” while the situation unfolded. By 8:25 an “all clear” was issued:

“Police have taken two non-UMD students into custody,” the message said. “What was thought to be a gun was recovered. No threat exists on campus. UMD followed emergency operations protocol to ask the campus community to shelter in place earlier this morning while police investigated.”

Fargo man accused of kidnapping, sexually assaulting runaway

MOORHEAD, Minn. -- Moorhead police have issued an arrest warrant for a Fargo man accused of kidnapping a teenage runaway and sexually assaulting her in a series of motels and trailers throughout the area in January.

Anthony Edward Tursso, 32, was charged Wednesday with felony kidnapping and three counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct upon a person who is 13 to 15, which is also a felony.

Court documents say the girl reported to a Moorhead officer Jan. 29 that she had run away with Tursso on Jan. 7. The girl told law enforcement that Tursso had engaged in intercourse with her in motels and trailers in Fargo, Moorhead, Dilworth and Glyndon, according to court records.

He had called her at the Grand Inn on Jan. 28 to tell her he was being arrested, she allegedly told officers.

The girl’s mother reported to investigators Jan. 27 that her daughter had run away and was “blindly in love” with Tursso, authorities allege in the complaint filed in Clay County District Court.

Tursso also faces an outstanding warrant for theft in Becker County. Court documents say he is being held in Ransom County, N.D., on related charges.

Teen tanning ban advances

ST. PAUL -- A proposal to ban youths younger than 16 from using tanning beds passed it first committee.

The bill requires those 16 and 17 to have parental permission before tanning.

“This bill will prohibit minors from using indoor tanning facilities, require proprietors to hang signage to that effect and impose some penalties,” Rep. JoAnn Ward, D-Woodbury, said.

Fines of up to $300 could be assessed to businesses that do not follow the law.

Hundreds rally for homeless

ST. PAUL -- Minnesotans from across the state rallied Thursday in favor of borrowing $100 million to provide housing for the homeless.

Hundreds attended the rally before the Senate public works committee heard the proposal. Gov. Mark Dayton put $50 million in his public works bill, but legislators have yet to release their plans.

“A stable home is the foundation for better school outcomes, healthier living and stronger communities," Executive Director Liz Kuoppala of the Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless said. "This bill moves us closer to the day all Minnesotans have a place to call home."

Warmer weather brings pollution alert

ST. PAUL -- Minnesotans may like warm weather that has been unusual in this polar vortex winter, but it is adding to an air pollution problem in western and southern Minnesota.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency issues an air pollution alert for the western and southern parts of the state, lasting through noon Friday.

"Air quality monitors indicate that fine particle pollution is increasing across the central plain states..." the pollution agency reported. "A strong temperature inversion, snowmelt and morning fog are trapping fine particle pollution near the surface, causing fine particle concentrations to reach a level considered unhealthy for sensitive groups."

The agency reported that the situation will be particularly bad for groups such as people cardiovascular or respiratory disease, the elderly, children and individuals who participate in activities requiring extended or heavy exertion.

Bemidji man gets jail time for aiming gun at deputy

BEMIDJI, Minn. -- A Bemidji man will serve less than two months in jail for aiming a rifle at a Beltrami County sheriff’s deputy in October.

Daniel Patrick Scamp, 43, was sentenced to 56 days in the Beltrami County Jail for felony second-degree assault and felony terroristic threats. He has been placed on five years of supervised probation.

Scamp was originally arrested on two counts of felony use of deadly force against a peace officer. Beltrami District Judge John G. Melbye handed down the sentence Feb. 24; it was filed with the court Tuesday.

Law enforcement responded to a possible suicide attempt in Bemidji around midnight Oct. 25, and Scamp emerged from his residence brandishing a rifle.

Deputy accounts in an incident report say officers retreated to regroup after Scamp told them they weren’t welcome on his property. Scamp exited and entered the residence a few times, rifle in hand, before walking about 20 yards from the building.

Scamp was ordered to drop his weapon and lie on the ground. Before complying, he pointed his rifle at a deputy who had shone the light on his M-4 weapon at him. It was later determined Scamp’s rifle had no bullets in the chamber.


Youth accused of hindering law enforcement in school arson case

DICKINSON, N.D. -- Dickinson police arrested a juvenile early Thursday on a charge of hindering law enforcement in the investigation of Monday’s fire at Trinity High School.

The juvenile was taken into custody at 3 a.m. Thursday at the Law Enforcement Center and shortly thereafter transported to the Youth Correctional Center in Mandan for holding until a juvenile court hearing is conducted, according to a release sent by Dickinson police Detective Kylan Klauzer. The charge he faces is a Class C felony.

"It's pretty tight lidded as far as any of the fine details," Klauzer said.

The Dickinson Police Department does not identify juveniles who are arrested to the media.

Former Trinity High School Principal Thomas Sander is charged with arson and endangering by fire in the case. He is accused of setting fire to contents of a file cabinet in the office vault at the school.

Sander was being held at the Southwest Multi-County Correction Center on $500,000 cash bond.

UND Women’s Center to stay put for now

GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- The decision to move the University of North Dakota Women’s Center from its current location in a residential home on campus has been postponed, the university said Wednesday.

The center was originally going to move into McCannel Hall, and some worried the location wouldn’t suit the center’s needs.

In a notice on the university blog, Vice President for Student Affairs Lori Reesor wrote that the decision was made so the associate vice president for diversity and inclusion, who will be hired this spring, can be more involved in the process.

In early February, UND President Robert Kelley identified eight buildings that would be “taken offline.” That list included the buildings housing the Women’s Center and the Era Bell Thompson Multicultural Center.

Since then, the multicultural center and the Women’s Center buildings have been slated for demolition, though no timeline has been set.

The multicultural center’s move to the Memorial Union will take place this summer, later than previously scheduled.

Grand Forks officer helps deliver baby

GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- A Grand Forks police officer helped deliver a baby Monday, the police department said.

Officer Kris Brown was dispatched to a home around 1:20 a.m. When he arrived, he realized there wasn't enough time for medical staff to arrive or for the family to head to the hospital.

According to the department, "Brown assisted in the delivery of this baby, verified the correct placement of the umbilical cord and confirmed the infant's airway was open by making sure the infant's mouth was clear of any objects or fluid."

Baby Maximus Arthur Walden was born at 7 pounds, 9 ounces. The department reported that he is a "healthy, happy baby boy."

Risk of major flood in Red River valley remains low

GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- The risk for a substantial spring flood remains low in the Red River Valley, according to the National Weather Service’s latest flood outlook released Thursday.

It remains largely unchanged from an outlook issued last month.

There is potential for moderate flooding on the Red River and minor to moderate flooding from most tributaries in North Dakota and Minnesota.

A 1-foot increase also is expected on Devils Lake and Stump Lake at their summer peaks.

Temperatures for the next two weeks are expected to be above zero but still below seasonal average with no big snowstorms predicted for the area.

The low temperatures combined with soils frozen around 3 feet deep or more reduce the likelihood of an early thaw. Forecasters say a later-than-average thaw is likely.

Below-normal temperatures will likely extend into April, but heavier snows and rains aren’t expected to accompany them.

One killed, saltwater spilled in crash

WILLISTON, N.D. -- One person was killed and 100 barrels of production saltwater spilled in a crash Wednesday evening on Highway 2 east of Williston.

James Waldhart, 51, of Laramie, Wyo., died after his truck struck the rear end of a semi tanker filled with oil well production water. The semi, driven by Samuel Wing, 30, of Salmon, Idaho, negotiated a U-turn in the highway median crossover in front of Waldhart’s truck, the North Dakota Highway Patrol reported.

Waldhart struck the back of the semi, sending his vehicle into a ditch and totaling both vehicles. The entire load of saltwater spilled from the tanker.

The North Dakota Department of Health was contacted to ensure proper cleanup of the spill. No further details were available. The accident remains under investigation.

Fatal crash victims were sisters

HILLSBORO, N.D. – The two women killed in a rollover crash near Hillsboro on Wednesday afternoon were sisters.

The North Dakota Highway Patrol has identified the two victims of the one-vehicle accident as Holly Nadeau, 23, of Fargo, and Ivy Nadeau, 20, of Grand Forks.

The patrol said that Holly Nadeau was driving a 1995 Ford Explorer north on Interstate 29, two miles north of Hillsboro, at about 3:15 p.m. when the SUV entered the median and rolled several times.

Neither sister was wearing a safety belt and both were ejected from the vehicle during the crash, the patrol said. Both died of their injuries at the scene.

The roadway had ice and compacted snow, and snow was blowing across it, the patrol said in a news release. Warming temperatures contributed to icy, slippery roads in the region.

The patrol said a semi-truck driver headed south on I-29 jack-knifed while taking evasive action to avoid the rollover crash. The semi was not a factor in the fatal crash, the patrol said.

Al Edenloff
Al Edenloff is the news and opinion page editor for the Echo Press. He was born in Alexandria and lived most of his childhood in Parkers Prairie. He graduated with honors from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communications, print journalism. He interned at the Echo Press in the summer of 1983 and was hired a year later as a sports reporter. He also worked as a news reporter/photographer. Al is a four-time winner of the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Herman Roe Award, which honors excellence in editorial writing.  
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