BOY LEFT IN WOODS
Couple charged with child neglect after child left in woods
ST. PETER, Minn. (AP) — A man and woman in southern Minnesota are accused of dropping off a 5-year-old boy in the woods as punishment for wetting himself.
Officials say 42-year-old Lynda Michel and 32-year-old Gregory Wilson were charged Friday in Nicollet County District Court with child neglect.
Authorities say the boy was found on Aug. 28 walking south of St. Peter, a community roughly 55 miles (90 kilometers) southwest of Minneapolis. He was crying and wet from rain when a motorist spotted him. He told authorities he had been dropped off because he had been “naughty.”
The couple told authorities they turned around after a short distance, but could not find him. Police found the couple searching for the child, but they had not called to report him missing.
Court documents do not list attorneys for the defendants. The child is in protective custody.
SCHOOL BUS DRIVER SHORTAGE
Minnesota school districts scramble amid bus driver shortage
(Information from: Minnesota Public Radio News, http://www.mprnews.org)
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota school administrators and busing companies are scrambling to get students to class on time amid a shortage of school bus drivers.
Tom Burr is responsible for moving 32,000 students on 350 bus routes for the St. Paul school district. Burr tells Minnesota Public Radio News that he’s 15 to 20 percent short on drivers.
Burr says it’s a domino effect that causes the district to backfill drivers with typically full-time staff, such as mechanics and trainers.
Shelly Jonas of the Minnesota School Bus Operators Association says school districts across the state are facing bus driver shortages as the strong economy and low unemployment make it difficult to find workers to fill the roles. She said many private school bus companies aren’t attracting new hires through traditional methods.
Sanford invests $10M in Sioux Falls biopharma company
(Information from: Argus Leader, http://www.argusleader.com)
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — The latest target of Sioux Falls billionaire philanthropist T. Denny Sanford is a biopharmaceutical company based in the city.
The Argus Leader reports that Sanford is investing $10 million in SAB Biotherapeutics Inc. The investment closed on Aug. 17 and was made through a new entity called Sanford Therapeutics LLC.
SAB announced that its treatment recently provided 100-percent protection against a lethal dose of the Ebola virus in an animal study. The company says Sanford’s investment will help as it prepares to enter two new trials for severe hospitalized influenza and MERS-CoV.
Sanford is best known locally for his benevolence that fuels Sanford Health, which bills itself as one of the largest health systems in the nation with facilities in several states, including the Dakotas and Minnesota.
Wetterling investigative files to be made public Thursday
ST. CLOUD, Minn. (AP) — Stearns County authorities plan to release their investigative files on the kidnapping and killing of Jacob Wetterling to the public next week.
Sheriff Don Gudmundson plans a news conference for Thursday to present “key elements in the case” and take questions before releasing the nearly 57,000 pages of documents.
Jacob was 11 when he was abducted near his St. Joseph home in 1989. In 2016 Danny Heinrich confessed and led investigators to his remains. In a deal with prosecutors, he was sentenced to 20 years in prison for child pornography.
His parents, Patty and Jim Wetterling, sued to keep some documents private, saying they held personal information about their family. But media organizations persuaded a judge that the documents were public information under state law because the investigation was over.
FEDERAL JUDGE THREATENED
North Dakota man convicted in Minnesota of threatening judge
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — A North Dakota man has been convicted in Minnesota of threatening to kill a federal judge.
A jury in St. Paul found 65-year-old Robert Phillip Ivers, of West Fargo, North Dakota, guilty Friday. U.S. Attorney Erica MacDonald says Ivers has “a long history of using words to frighten and intimidate.”
U.S. District Judge Wilhelmina Wright ruled against Ivers last year when he sued a life insurance company.
He sued again, and two volunteer attorneys he consulted reported the threats. When marshals went to West Fargo to speak with him, he screamed he was glad he had scared the judge because she stole his life.
Ivers ran twice for mayor of Hopkins, Minnesota, sparking anger for racist remarks at a candidate forum last year.
A sentencing date has not been announced.
Minnesota drug task force announces huge meth seizure
(Information from: Faribault Daily News, http://www.southernminn.com)
FARIBAULT, Minn. (AP) — A southern Minnesota drug task force has announced a huge methamphetamine bust.
Authorities said Friday that task force agents assisted by a Minneapolis police SWAT team seized just under 171 pounds of meth with an estimated street value of $7.75 million on Tuesday, and arrested four suspects who’ve now been charged. Five adults and three children were found at the residence.
The Faribault Daily News reports that Rice County Sheriff Troy Dunn, the chairman of the task force, calls it, “the mother lode.”
While the meth was seized at a Minneapolis residence, Dunn says the case began in January with illegal drug sales in Rice and Le Sueur counties.
The officers also seized a sawed-off shotgun, 1.1 ounces of heroin and several thousand dollars in suspected drug cash.
After chaotic House race, some call for new voting system
BOSTON (AP) — The crowded and chaotic Democratic congressional primary that is now being recounted has fueled calls from election reform advocates for Massachusetts to adopt a system allowing voters to rank candidates on the ballot rather than select just a single one.
Ten candidates were vying for their party’s nomination to succeed retiring U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas. The top two vote-getters in the Sept. 4 primary, Lori Trahan and Dan Koh, wound up separated by only a few dozen votes after the initial count.
In a ranked-choice voting system, voters can rank candidates numerically, from their No. 1 choice down to their least favorite.
Maine became the first U.S. state to use ranked-choice voting in a primary election in June.
Legislation to allow ranked-choice voting was filed on Beacon Hill last year. It didn’t advance.
Guilty plea entered in 1987 St. Paul homicide
(Information from: Star Tribune, http://www.startribune.com)
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — A serial burglar has pleaded guilty to killing an elderly woman after breaking into her St. Paul home three decades ago.
Sixty-year-old Michael Withers entered the plea to second-degree murder without intent Friday in Ramsey County District Court and could be sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Eighty-one-year-old Lillian Kuller fought with her intruder before he strangled her in 1987. The Star Tribune says authorities had done DNA tests on evidence, but it wasn’t until Y-chromosome profile tests on some evidence, including Kuller’s fingernail clippings, were done that investigators came up with a match to Withers. Those results were received in March 2017.
Withers lived about a mile from Kuller’s house at the time of the homicide. He’s scheduled for sentencing Oct. 30.