Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker
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Felony charges were filed this week against a man accused of sexually assaulting a foster child that was being cared for at a Hudson home. St. Croix County prosecutors charged 21-year-old Desmond M. LaPean with one count of first-degree sexual assault of a child under 12 and repeated sexual assault. St. Croix County Circuit Court Judge Eric Lundell ordered the Minneapolis resident held on $50,000 cash bond at his initial appearance Monday, Sept. 18. According to a criminal complaint:
Hudson police opened a death investigation Wednesday after the discovery of a woman’s body along the St. Croix River. Police Chief Marty Jensen said the woman was a 74-year-old Hudson resident. Police were attempting to confirm her identity with relatives, he said. The death, he said, does not appear suspicious “at this point in time.” The chief said the woman had not been reported missing.
Authorities said a 27-year-old east metro man driving under the influence of pot with a 3-year-old passenger was responsible for a three-vehicle crash near Clear Lake. The man, identified by the Wisconsin State Patrol as Joseph P. Koehler, was hospitalized after the crash, reported at noon Sunday, Sept. 17, at Highway 63 and County Road F in Polk County. Koehler, who was taken to Amery Hospital with non-life threatening injuries, was the only person injured in the crash, according to troopers.
Federal prosecutors allege a New Richmond businesswoman embezzled funds and stiffed the government for more than $240,000 in taxes. According to an indictment filed Wednesday, Sept. 13, in U.S. District Court, charges 40-year-old Stephanie M. Johnson with 10 counts of tax crimes and five counts of mail fraud.
A western Wisconsin police chief faces multiple felonies after allegedly sexually assaulting a female officer who reported to him. St. Croix County District Attorney Michael Nieskes, working as special prosecutor for the Polk County District Attorney's Office, charged Clayton Police Chief Grant Pickard with four counts of felony misconduct in public office, two counts of fourth-degree sexual assault and one count each of sending an obscene computer message and lewd and lascivious behavior.
HUDSON — Words weren't enough for Alexis McKinley to describe what happened to a little boy who suffered a broken leg at the hands of a daycare worker. Though she tried. "This case is terrible," said McKinley, an assistant St. Croix County district attorney. "It's infuriating. It's sad. It's really hard to find the words to describe what happened to the victim." Instead, the prosecutor played a video of the Feb. 24, 2016, incident that led to a conviction against the suspect, 27-year-old Ashley Garrity.
A man was arrested last week after allegedly running from a hit-and-run crash before eluding St. Croix County authorities for several hours. St. Croix County Sheriff Scott Knudson said the man was arrested Wednesday, Sept. 6, after a resident in the 1500 block of 200th Avenue spotted a suspicious person in a field. Knudson said deputies responded and formed a perimeter.
A girl known for putting a smile on other Somerset students’ faces was mourned this week as community members came to grips with her sudden death on Minnesota’s North Shore. School officials confirmed Somerset High School freshman Bailey Belisle died Sunday, Sept. 10. Authorities said the 14-year-old died after falling off a cliff at Palisade Head, located along the shore of Lake Superior northeast of Silver Bay, where she was joining another Somerset family on a trip.
A New Richmond woman and a Minneapolis man accused of selling heroin to a police informant were arrested Thursday during a traffic stop. New Richmond police, working with sheriff's deputies from St. Croix and Polk counties, arrested Marquita D. Sheffel, 26, and Demetric L. Smith, 28, at about 7:30 p.m. on East Sixth Street near Park Avenue in New Richmond.
Authorities were searching a rural St. Croix County area after a two-vehicle crash that led to one driver fleeing the scene on foot. St. Croix County Sheriff Scott Knudson said some town of Stanton residents were alerted by a mass notification system about the incident, which was reported at 7:02 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 6, on Highway 64 near 170th Street. The sheriff said there was no indication the suspect was dangerous.