There is a growing frustration among the public about how law enforcement is not following through with information about deaths or other kinds of crises that happen throughout the central Minnesota area.
The following are just a few examples:
- A woman was found dead Oct. 15 by gunshot inside her residence in the Rockwood Estates Mobile Home Park south of Rice. Of course, the news hit Rockwood residents like gangbusters, and some of them were frightened, locking their doors, leery about letting their children outside to play, wondering if the law had caught whoever did the killing or if the murderer was still on the loose, perhaps hiding in a shed or empty mobile home within the Park. News reports (TV, radio, newspapers) quoted the Benton County Sheriff’s Department that there appeared to be no danger to the public in the wake of the woman’s death. But what did that mean, exactly? Did it mean only that a killer had fled from the area? In the coming days, conjecture via a verbal buzz line took hold. Was it a murder? Was it a suicide? Was it just a gun going off accidentally? A Newsleader reporter Dennis Dalman, who happens to live in that Park, called Benton County Sheriff Troy Heck, who said the incident is under investigation and no further information could be released at that time. Residents still are not sure how the woman died.
- Two weeks ago, a man’s body was found in the Mississippi River near a railroad bridge north of Little Falls. Another man was reported missing. Days later, his body, too, was found floating in the river. The news release from law enforcement stated those two men had agreed to meet at that railroad bridge crossing one night. The release also stated there is no cause for public concern, that foul play was not suspected. People were left wondering how did those two men end up drowned? Did a train come along, forcing them to jump from the bridge into the river? Were the deaths the result of some bizarre suicide pact? Did the two begin a physical struggle during which both fell into the river? It’s all very mysterious, to say the least. By the way, has anybody else wondered why is it so many young men throughout Minnesota in the past 10 years have ended up dead in rivers?
- Last year, a woman claimed she was abducted from her car while at the McDonald’s restaurant in Sartell. The man who abducted her, she said, drove her around, met up with another man, then the three of them drove around for a long time in the greater St. Cloud area, the men finally pushing the woman out of the car onto a street in downtown Sauk Rapids. That story alarmed many people in the area, people who wondered if deranged abductors were on the loose and if next time the abducted victim would be brutalized, raped and/or murdered. We never did hear the truth behind that so-called “abduction.” Was it a lie invented by the woman? All that law enforcement would reveal is there was no way to prove that the incident didn’t happen. That was, to say the least, not a very reassuring answer.
- With alarming regularity, shots are fired in certain areas of St. Cloud: people driving by shooting from vehicles, disputes among people during which shots are fired, shots fired in homes or apartments or outside dwellings. Time and again, law enforcement tells us, via press releases, there is no danger to the public. Are they kidding? Slugs flying through the air are indeed a danger to the public – to anybody who happens to be in a particular area when shots are fired. Sometimes we don’t learn much if anything about why the shots were fired or if the perpetrators were caught and punished. Such unanswered questions can leave residents feeling vulnerable.
These comments are not meant as criticism, necessarily, of our excellent local law-enforcement agencies whose members make extraordinary efforts to help keep us safe. However, this is meant to be a suggestion. Whenever possible, consider releasing updated information via press releases that explain such “mysterious” deaths and crises. Such follow-ups would go a long way in stopping speculation and gossip, in bringing answers to wondering minds and in making everyone feel safer.