Minnesota News Briefs: Slain Little Falls teens involved in burglaryMinnesota News
-- Morrison County Sheriff Michel Wetzel confirms two teenagers shot and killed during an alleged break-in on Thanksgiving Day were involved in a separate burglary the night before, south of Little Falls.
(Little Falls, MN) -- Morrison County Sheriff Michel Wetzel confirms two teenagers shot and killed during an alleged break-in on Thanksgiving Day were involved in a separate burglary the night before, south of Little Falls.
Wetzel says a search of the teens' car turned up items stolen from a home in Little Falls Township, including six bottles of prescription pills belonging to the homeowner. Wetzel says the night of that break-in, deputies also had contact with the teens, Nicholas Brady and Haile Kifer, after a report of a suspicious vehicle at the end of another homeowner's driveway. Brady told officers he and Kifer had run out of gas and that she had left to get some. Deputies then gave Brady a ride to town.
Visitation and a prayer service are Friday and a joint funeral has been set for Saturday morning in Little Falls for the two teens who were shot and killed after apparently breaking into a home on Thanksgiving Day. Services for 17-year-old Nicholas Brady and his cousin, 18-year-old Haile Kifer, will be at Living Hope Assembly of God in Little Falls. Sixty-four-year-old Byron Smith has been charged in what authorities call their cold-blooded murders.
Flags are flying at half-staff today in Minnesota in honor of a Marine killed in Afghanistan. Twenty-three-year-old Lance Corporal Dale Means of New Prague died after his vehicle hit an IED in Helmand Province November 18th. Lance Corporal Means was awarded the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and the National Defense Service Medal. He was a 2007 graduate of New Prague High School and married his wife Andrea last October. A mass of Christian burial with full military honors is this morning at the Church of St. Patrick of Cedar Lake in Saint Patrick.
Police are on the lookout for two children allegedly kidnapped by their mother from the foster home where they were all living. The Blue Earth County Sheriff's Office is leading the search for 21-year-old Reina Gandarilla. Officials say Gandarilla, who lost her parental rights, took two-year-old Isaiah and four-month-old Iyanna from the home and disappeared. The sheriff's office says the children could be in danger. They believe Gandarilla may have headed to Chicago.
The drawing for the largest Powerball jackpot in history is just hours away. For days, Minnesotans have been flocking to convenience stores for a chance to win the half-a-billion dollar prize. So what are your odds of winning? One in 175-million. And not to dampen any dreams, here are five things more likely to happen to you than winning the jackpot: Picking a perfect NCAA bracket, becoming president, birthing identical quadruplets, becoming an astronaut or being hit by space debris. Tickets for tonight's drawing must be purchased before 9 p.m. The drawing is at 9:59 p.m.
As if there aren't already a lot of people dropping two bucks for a dream this week, the Minnesota Lottery has debuted paperless gambling at ATM's and gas pumps. The pilot program, called "Play at the Pump," is expected to boost lottery sales even higher. Players must enter a debit card and PIN, plus have their driver's license and cell phone number ready. Winners get a text message -- and all players pay a one-dollar service fee. There are just a few "Play at the Pump" locations for now but as the program grows, lottery officials expect to add them at bars and restaurants. Meanwhile, the multi-state Powerball jackpot has grown to half-a-billion-dollars for Wednesday night's drawing.
Cashiers are busy selling Powerball tickets across the state today with tonight's jackpot estimated at a record half-a-billion-dollars. Tony Kruzel works at the Holiday gas station in St. Cloud and says it's not just the regulars playing. He says even people that don't want to spend two dollars on a lottery ticket are forking over the money for a chance to be a millionaire. Kruzel adds he wouldn't mind retiring at the age of 30. Tonight's $500-million-dollar powerball prize tops the old record of $365-million, set in 2006.
Many members of Minnesota's Washington delegation take part in tonight's 10th Anniversary event to remember Paul Wellstone and his family. U.S. Senator Al Franken is one of the speakers at the gathering in Washington D.C. and says he'll focus on not just Wellstone the policy guy and progressive, but also Paul Wellstone the man. Senator Amy Klobuchar, along with representatives Collin Peterson, Betty McCollum, Keith Ellison and Tim Walz will also be there. Wellstone, his wife Sheila, daughter Marcia, three campaign workers and two pilots died when their plane crashed near Eveleth airport in late October 2002.
Waking up to single digit temperatures this morning doesn't necessarily mean the ice is ready in northern Minnesota. The DNR's Kevin Peterson has been watching the ice form on lakes and bays around International Falls and reminds us that four-inches of ice are needed for foot travel, five inches for snowmobiles and ATV's -- and eight- to 12-inches for cars and light trucks. Peterson says those thicknesses could take a while, as Minnesota's ice season is running behind -- about where it was last year at this time.
The political battle continues in Washington D.C. over a shortage of water that's impeding barge traffic on the lower Mississippi -- but Minnesota has apparently already done all it can to help. The Army Corps of Engineers ordered its St. Paul District to release water stored in six reservoirs in the Mississippi headwaters. Spokesman Brian Johnson says they did that beginning December 16th, but will now start to wind down because of Minnesota's continuing drought. At last check, about a quarter of the state was in extreme drought. The Mississippi headwaters area of northern Minnesota is considered to be in moderate drought.
The 2012 Midwest Dairy Expo wraps up today at the River's Edge Convention Center in St. Cloud. Bob Lefebvre of the Minnesota Milk Producers Association says while milk sales continue to decline, cheese sales are strong. Lefebvre says Minnesota continues to lose dairy farmers, but the number of dairy cows in the state remains steady. His organization is focused on getting a new farm bill signed into law by the end of the year.
There's been another fatal accident in Anoka -- the second in two days. This time, a 66-year-old woman making a U-turn in her car at an intersection smashed into an SUV. She died at the scene. The 17-year-old driver and her passenger were hospitalized but are expected to recover. The accident follows the death of a jogger, 16-year-old Hannah Craft of Ramsey, who was struck and killed on Highway-10 on Monday.
Courthouses is several west-central Minnesota counties are making security changes, prompted by shootings at other facilities -- including those in Grand Marais nearly a year ago. Grant and Clay counties already have one entrance point, and Wilkin County will be putting up signs instructing members of the public to use one entrance. The Otter Tail County Courthouse is being remodeled and security will be moving down to the main floor when that's finished. One entrance point allows security staff to screen everyone coming into the courthouse.
Two people who helped save the life of the Cook County attorney after last year's courthouse shootings in Grand Marais will be honored today (1pm) in Minneapolis. Receiving the Hennepin County attorney's Community Leadership Awards are Assistant Cook County Attorney Molly Hicken, who helped tackle the gunman -- and defense lawyer John Lillie, who put a compress on County Attorney Timothy Scannell's stomach wound and a tourniquet on his leg. Forty-two-year-old Timothy Schlienz shot both the prosecutor and a witness on December 15, 2011, right after a jury returned a guilty verdict against him in a sex-offense case. Schlienz never went on trial because shortly after he died in a Duluth hospital of flu-like symptoms.
Recounts begin today in two state legislative races: Senate District-20, the Northfield area, where 78 votes separate DFL Senator Kevin Dahle from Republican challenger Michael Dudley. There's also a recount in House District 8B, Alexandria and vicinity, where the November 6th tally showed Alexandria Republican Mary Franson beating Democratic challenger Bob Cunniff by only one vote. The two recounts are scheduled to wrap up Friday. The outcomes will not change the fact that Democrats will have control of the Minnesota House and Senate next year.
It may not be a new football stadium site but officials have approved a plan for the former Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant at Arden Hills. Reports say the Ramsey County Commission has tagged the cost at $30-million dollars to acquire and clean up the 427-acres. The property is the state's largest Superfund site and was once considered as a possible location for a new Vikings football stadium.