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News Briefs: Reward offered for homicide suspect

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


Two killed in collision

HENNING, Minn. – Two people died and four others were injured in a head-on collision Wednesday night west of Henning in west-central Minnesota.

The crash happened about 6:40 p.m. on Minnesota Highway 108, according to the Minnesota State Patrol.

A car driving southbound in the northbound lane of the highway collided with an SUV.

The 34-year-old driver of the car, who was from Deer Creek, died in the crash, as did a 26-year-old passenger, who was also from Deer Creek.

Their identities were withheld pending notification of relatives.

The State Patrol hasn't released any information about two other passengers in the car, but Fergus Falls radio station KBRF reported they were two children, ages 5 and 8, who were seriously injured.

The driver of the SUV, Laura J. Smith, 49, and a passenger in the SUV, Grant D. Smith, 50, both of Henning, were seriously injured, the State Patrol said.

The Smiths were treated at a St. Cloud hospital, where they were listed in good condition.

Henning is about 34 miles east of Fergus Falls in Otter Tail County.

Fifth child accuses former deputy of molestation

FERGUS FALLS, Minn. – Authorities here have charged a former Mille Lacs County deputy with two new felony counts of molesting a child, the fifth child he is charged with sexually abusing.

Aaron Joseph Heuer, of Isle, was charged Monday in Otter Tail County District Court with one count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct with a person under 13, and one count of second-degree criminal sexual conduct with a person under 13.

Jill Oliveira, spokeswoman for the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, said the alleged incidents happened in May and June 2009 with a boy who was then 9 years old, both at Heuer’s home and at Lutheran Island Camp in Henning in Otter Tail County.

According to court documents filed with the charges, the boy’s mother, who is a friend of Heuer’s, saw a TV news report about the prior child sex charges filed against Heuer. She asked her son if anything had happened during their time together.

He responded, “What do you think, the same thing that happened to the other kids.”

In July, Heuer was charged with molesting four boys ages 8 to 10 when he was volunteering at the camp in Henning and two of the boys on a separate fishing trip in Aitkin County.

Reward offered for homicide suspect

GRANITE FALLS, Minn. — Crime Stoppers of Minnesota is offering a reward for information leading to the arrest or apprehension of Andrew Dikken, 28, of Granite Falls, formerly of Renville.

Dikken is being sought in the shooting deaths of Kara Monson, 26, of Granite Falls, and Chris Panitzke, 28, of Redwood Falls.

Granite Falls Police Chief Russ Blue said that information offered to Crime Stoppers is anonymous. Crime Stoppers of Minnesota offers rewards of up to $1,000.

Information is being sought on Dikken’s whereabouts. He has not been seen since the Sept. 2 shooting at Monson’s home in Granite Falls. Police recovered his vehicle in a gravel pit about five miles north of Belview, and have conducted searches in the area without success.

Dikken is believed armed and dangerous and should not be approached.

To report an anonymous tip to Crime Stoppers of Minnesota call 1-800-222-(TIPS) 8477 or go to the website

Chief Blue said law enforcement is continuing to follow up on all information offered by the public. Call the Granite Falls Police Department or Yellow Medicine County Sheriff’s Department 320-564-2129 with any information.


Explicit photos lead to fight between teens

FARGO – A 15-year-old boy was beat up last month as he confronted a fellow 15-year-old boy who sent an explicit photo to his 13-year-old sister, police say in court documents.

Police executed a search warrant on the 13-year-old’s cellphone last week, saying in the affidavit that the older brother took a baseball bat to the meeting with the boy who sent the girl a Snapchat picture of his genitals.

According to the search warrant filed Monday in Cass County District Court, officers responded to an assault report at a Kum & Go store on Aug. 10.

They found the older brother there with “a significant amount” of blood on his face coming from a cut on his eyebrow, with dried blood around his nose and down his face.

He told officers the other 15-year-old had punched him in the face three times.

Police say in court filings that the older brother saw the photo the boy shared with his sister, then sent a Snapchat message to the 15-year-old telling him to meet him at the Kum & Go, where they fought.

The girl denied sending nude photos to the other boy.

It’s unclear if charges were filed.

Court dates set in guard assault case

JAMESTOWN, N.D. -- Court dates have been set for a case involving an assault of a guard at the James River Correctional Center.

Shawn Allen Ostafin, either 41 or 42 and originally from Mandan, will make an initial appearance on an aggravated assault charge Sept. 25. A jury trial is scheduled in the case for Nov. 15.

Ostafin is accused of assaulting Jeremiah MacDonald on July 28 at the James River Correctional Center. MacDonald was taken by air ambulance to a Bismarck hospital with severe head injuries. He has since been released from the hospital.

Ostafin was transferred to the North Dakota State Penitentiary at Bismarck after the incident. He is serving a two-year sentence after pleading guilty to terrorizing in 2012.

Ostafin is also being charged as a habitual offender.

Court records indicate Ostafin has been convicted of 14 felony counts since the age of 18. In 1991 he pleaded guilty to two counts of Class AA murder in the death of his father, Roger Ostafin, and his stepmother, Rosemary Ostafin.

The aggravated assault charge is a Class C felony. The habitual offender designation increases the possible penalty from five years in prison to 10 years in prison with a fine of $5,000.

Family seeks help finding teen

DEVILS LAKE, N.D. -- A Devils Lake High School student remains missing after more than a month and his family has asked police to ask the public for help, according to the city police department’s Detective Sue Schwab.

A state Highway Patrol plane was in the air Thursday morning looking for Jonathan Linn, 16. He was last seen on foot by himself near Vining Oil, 6 miles east of Devils Lake on U.S. Highway 2, Schwab said.

His family first reported him missing on Aug. 10, she said.

The detective wouldn’t say if he had previously left home, but said that “there had been prior contacts” made with police.

Linn’s family is not originally from the area and he does have relatives out of state, Schwab said.

The boy is 5 foot 9 inches, and weighs 180 pounds. The last time he was seen, he wore blue jeans and a blue shirt and was carrying a sweatshirt.

Devils Lake police ask those with information about him to call them at (701) 662-5323.

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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