MINNESOTA NEWS ROUNDUP: Three charged with holding transgender MN native as a sex slave
NATCHITOCHES PARISH, LA -- More information has been released about the Minnesota woman who broke free after being held captive in Louisiana for two years. Police say she had recently made the transition from male to female, and was forced by her captors to work for them as well as perform sexual acts. David Rodriguez Jr., Christina Harper, and Ambre Lomas have been arrested and accused of beating, sexually assaulting, and tattooing and branding the 50-something Blaine native, and forcing her to live in a storage shed in the back yard of a Natchitoches Parish home. Two children, ages 15 and 16, were removed from the home by the State Office of Child Protective Services. The victim is in protective custody and has not been named.
A Rochester man has been accused of holding his girlfriend captive, beating, and sexually assaulting her. Witnesses told police that they saw 24-year-old Joseph Patrick Martin the Second jump into the 36-year-old woman's car through and open window in a grocery store parking lot, and bystanders were able to pull the screaming woman from the vehicle to safety. Martin was arrested a couple of blocks away. The victim told investigators that Martin held her for 24 hours in a Rochester home, where she was beaten and sexually assaulted. She convinced him to go to a smoke shop near the grocery store and that is when she tried to escape. Martin is charged with first-degree criminal sexual conduct, domestic assault with strangulation, and several other counts.
A 30-year-old woman has been airlifted to a Duluth hospital after apparently falling into an old mine pit in Chisholm on Minnesota's Iron Range. The Hibbing Daily Tribune reports the woman fell about 100 feet. Authorities say she has serious injuries. Rescue crews brought her up the hill of the cliff around 4:30 Monday afternoon.
A pilot from northwest Wisconsin is doing fine, after a vintage plane crashed at a fly-in event on Sunday in east central Minnesota. Chisago County sheriff's deputies said a 1936 Tailor J-Two aircraft was trying to land when it veered off a runway and into a deep drainage ditch. The pilot, who's from Amery, escaped injury. The F-A-A is investigating the mishap. Authorities said the plane was recently restored. The crash caused front end damage -- including a broken propeller and broken landing gear.
Divers have recovered the body of a pilot whose plane crashed into Lake Superior shortly after takeoff Saturday, but crews won't try to raise the plane until next week. Over the weekend St. Louis County first responders used sonar equipment to find the plane's wreckage, which was about 140 feet below the water's surface. The plane's log book was also recovered. The pilot's name has not been released, but he is believed to be from Oregon.
Lake Superior and the rest of the Great lakes are finally ice free. Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory scientists says the lakes were covered in at least one patch of ice for the past seven months - the longest period since record keeping began, and six weeks longer than average. The official ice out date was June 7, which also breaks a record. The ice has kept the lakes extremely cold, and the average Lake Superior water temperature remains in the 30s.
The Duluth City Council has officially designated the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial a city Heritage Preservation Landmark. It was built in 2003 to remember the three black men who were killed in June of 1920 after they were accused of raping a woman in Duluth. A mob in the thousands beat and strangled circus workers Elias Clayton, Elmer Jackson and Issac McGhie before lynching them.
Police say a 16-year-old boy on the run after he allegedly shot his brother yesterday (Mon) afternoon in Columbia Heights may be armed and should be considered dangerous. The teen's mother called police, saying her 19-year-old son had been shot by his brother, and while officers set up a perimeter around the family home the younger teen was not caught. Investigators believe he may still have the handgun. The victim is hospitalized but is expected to recover.
Minnesota's U-S lawmakers are concerned about the results of a new audit of VA medical facilities nationwide, and say the report raises some serious issues that must be addressed immediately. The VA systems in Minneapolis and Rochester will undergo further scrutiny to determine the causes of veterans' wait times in those facilities, and Senator Al Franken says, "We need to get to the bottom of what's going on," because veterans deserve to get the care they've earned. If any wrongdoing is found in either of those facilities, Representative Tim Walz says officials need to, "Root out the bad actors and reform the system." Senator Amy Klobuchar says the investigation needs to be, "Thorough and swift," and she will continue to push to get answers.
Former President Bill Clinton says Minnesotans and all Americans need to keep living up to the ideals and promise of the Civil Rights Act. Clinton spoke last night at the University of Minnesota to mark the 50th anniversary of the law. The former President noted Hubert Humphrey was instrumental in getting the Civil Rights Act passed, saying the legendary Minnesota politician "carried a bill to life the last great stain on American history." Clinton was also given the Dean's Award for Public Leadership from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs last night.
High water on the state's lakes and rivers has officials warning paddlers, swimmers and boaters to not let their guards down. Kara Owens with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources says there's a lot of debris in the water that causes extra danger to boaters. She advises people to put on their life jacket every time they step on a boat. So far this year, two boaters have died on Minnesota waterways. Owens says even one boating fatality is one too many.
Officials say a fourth oil company has agreed to return money that it improperly received from a state fund for cleaning up contaminated sites. Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman alleges Sunoco (SUN'-uh-coe) received payment from the Petroleum Tank Cleanup Fund, but also from insurance policies for the same purpose -- either by misrepresenting or not telling state officials they had the insurance. Three other companies -- Chevron, Exxon Mobil and ConocoPhillips -- have also agreed to out-of-court settlements, with total reimbursement to the state of over seven million dollars. The state is also suing B-P for 25 million dollars.
A five-percent wage increase for workers in group homes, assisted living and other facilities -- that's what advocates are celebrating this afternoon (noon-2pm) outside the State Capitol. The legislature passed the increase last session, Governor Dayton signed it, and it takes effect July 1st. Steve Larson with The Arc Minnesota says the state has made a strong commitment to keep people with disabilities of all ages, including the elderly, in their home communities and out of institutions. He says the workers who help do that need to be paid a living wage. Larson says in the current budget year 84 million dollars of state money, plus a similar amount in federal matching dollars, will go for the wage increase for home- and community-based care workers.
To help stop the spread of aquatic invasive species the DNR is increasing the number of watercraft checkpoints to 36 -- double the number last year. In addition to the watercraft checkpoints, the DNR also expects to hire 146 watercraft inspectors and place 23 decontamination units at zebra mussel infested waters and high-use areas. Up to 300 additional authorized inspectors will be working for tribal and local governments throughout the state. If someone refuses to allow an inspection, or doesn't remove aquatic plants or animals, DNR-trained inspectors can prohibit launching or operation of water-related equipment and a conservation officer will be called.