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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WOODBURY — A bust that began with man caught toting a mattress out of a JC Penney store opened a Pandora’s Box of stolen loot that two of Washington County’s most tenured prosecutors said was the largest such retail crime ring they’ve seen.
Almost 50 methamphetamine pipes, moldy food containers and bags of garbage packed a rural Ellsworth home where authorities removed a child and arrested two people who were later charged with multiple crimes.
One man was airlifted and two others were treated after separate motorcycle crashes between Wednesday and Sunday in Pierce County. The first incident was reported at 6:22 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 15, when Pierce County Sheriff's Office deputies responded to a motorcycle crash near 1200th Street and Highway 35 in the town of Oak Grove. Motorcyclist Greg A. Capocasa, 60, was airlifted from the scene to Regions Hospital in St. Paul. Deputies said the Prescott man was southbound on 1200th Street when he lost control of the off-road motorcycle he was driving and crashed into a ditch.
A Prescott man was hospitalized last week after a two-vehicle crash in Pierce County. The Pierce County Sheriff's Office said 49-year-old Mark D. Kulvich was taken to Woodwinds Hospital in Woodbury after his car was rear-ended at 5:08 p.m. Aug. 16 on Highway 29 at 640th Avenue in the town of Clifton. Authorities said Kulvich's 1999 Buick LeSabre was struck from behind by a 1997 Ford F-150 driven by 24-year-old River Falls resident Dalton S. Boesel. He was later cited for failure to yield.
A roofer fatally attacked a coworker at a River Falls-area job site with a saw, authorities said Tuesday. The Pierce County Sheriff's Office said a 37-year-old man died at the scene and a 24-year-old suspect was arrested on suspicion of first-degree intentional homicide. The deceased was identified as St. Louis, Mo., resident Israel Valles-Flores.
A man who was found highly intoxicated after allegedly shooting his son to death in New Richmond was not put back in jail as prosecutors wanted, despite new allegations he'd been out drinking in Minnesota while on bond. A St. Croix County District Attorney's Office motion sought to keep Kayle A. Fleischauer in jail pending the outcome of a trial, alleging he failed to abide alcohol-related terms of his bond.
Family members of a River Falls business owner severely injured in a motorcycle crash last week said he would not have survived if not for the actions of people who rushed to his aid. The crash, which occurred just before 8 a.m. July 24 on Carmichael Road, left 32-year-old Michael Seidling with a severed leg and other injuries that left him recovering at Regions Hospital last week in St. Paul. "We are eternally grateful to these people that saved him," said Seidling's sister, Somerset resident Leigh Derosier. Seidling owns River Falls-based Greenwood Tattoo Parlor.
A Spring Valley woman was injured Tuesday after a Pierce County two-vehicle crash, where authorities said the other driver ran a stop sign. Pierce County sheriff’s deputies were called at 4:37 p.m. July 31 to county roads B and I in the town of Gilman for a two-vehicle crash. Officers said 66-year-old Stella Berry was westbound on County Road B when her vehicle collided with a vehicle driven by 17-year-old Elmwood resident Amber Bartz, who was northbound on County Road I.
A New Richmond man accused of attempting to kill his mother pleaded guilty this week to two charges in the case. Omar Martinez, 26, pleaded guilty July 30 in St. Croix County Circuit Court to first-degree recklessly endangering safety and battery by use of a dangerous weapon. The most serious count, first-degree attempted homicide, was dismissed as part of a plea agreement.
Two sex-related cases led to prison time for defendants last month in St. Croix County. Former Somerset resident Jennifer Bowers was sentenced June 26 to three years in prison and seven years on extended supervision. The 44-year-old pleaded guilty in March to one count of child enticement involving sexual contact.