Local/state briefs

Shakopee officer cleared in fatal shooting

SHAKOPEE (AP) — The Scott County Attorney’s Office has ruled a Shakopee police officer’s use of deadly force was justified when he fatally shot a man who pointed a gun at him.

Officer Thor Carlson and a rookie he was training responded to a fire alarm call at the home of James Hanchett last November. A state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigation found the 61-year-old Hanchett, who was intoxicated, came to the front door and pointed a gun directly at Carlson, who fired several shots. Hanchett died later at the hospital.

Carlson told BCA investigators he thought Hanchett was going to shoot him.

2 people killed in Sunday crash near Elk River identified

ELK RIVER (AP) — Authorities have identified two people who died in a two-vehicle crash near Elk River over the weekend.

The State Patrol said 77-year-old Stanley Swen and 68-year-old Victoria Swen were killed Sunday afternoon when their car was struck by a pickup truck while they tried to cross Highway 169.

The pickup driver was taken to a hospital with injuries that authorities say are not life-threatening.

Officers involved in Nevis incident with 3 dead identified

NEVIS (AP) — Authorities have identified two officers involved in a northern Minnesota incident in which three people died of gunshots.

The Department of Public Safety said Hubbard County Deputy Seth Kuhn fired his gun during the incident in Nevis, and Deputy Erick Rypkema was struck by a bullet fired by 34-year-old Bryce Bellomo.

Authorities said Bellomo killed himself in the Thursday incident. Rypkema survived.

Few details have been released. The sheriff’s office says deputies responding to a shooting found a woman dead outside a home. Deputies pursued Bellomo, who shot at them and later was found dead of suicide in a vehicle. Another person who was shot also was in the car.

The other two dead were identified as 40-year-old Heidi Pierce and 37-year-old Candi Goochey, both of Akeley. Their deaths are ruled a homicide.

Man falls 150 feet near Mississippi River in Minneapolis

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A man is hospitalized in Minneapolis after falling about 150 feet from a cliff near the Mississippi River.

Assistant Fire Chief Kathleen Mullen said the man was able to call 911 about 7 a.m. Monday, and authorities used cellphone pings to locate him.

A medic and a rescue technician were lowered down to the man and were able to get him onto a board so he could be lifted to safety. Mullen said the man was unable to use his legs and also had suffered injuries due to exposure to the cold. She believes he was there for at least three hours after the fall.

Mullen said authorities were unable to immediately identify the man.

Napkin, genealogy site leads to arrest in 1993 murder case

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A businessman has been charged with fatally stabbing a Minneapolis woman in 1993 after investigators ran DNA evidence from the murder scene through a genealogy website and obtained his DNA from a discarded napkin.

Jerry Westrom, 52, was charged with second-degree murder in the death of 35-year-old Jeanne Ann “Jeanie” Childs, whose naked body was found in her blood-covered apartment. He was released from jail after posting $500,000 bond Friday.

Westrom was arrested after detectives decided to take another look at the cold case by conducting new tests on DNA samples and running them through an online genealogy website, which turned up Westrom as a possible suspect, according to prosecutors.

Investigators then used the internet to determine where Westrom would be in public, and secretly trailed him to his daughter’s hockey game in Wisconsin in January. That’s where investigators confiscated a napkin he’d used and tossed in the trash, according to police.

Public genealogy databases have been used in other recent cases, including the capture last April of the suspected Golden State Killer in northern California. Prosecutors allege former police officer Joseph DeAngelo is responsible for at least a dozen killings and about 50 rapes in the 1970s and ’80s. A public database also helped police arrest a 55-year-old Washington man linked to the 1987 killing of a young Canadian couple.

Westrom appeared in a Minnesota courtroom Friday where his wife, children and 20 other supporters looked on from the gallery. Several members of Childs’ family were also at the hearing in Hennepin County District Court.

Westrom’s lawyer, Steven Meshbesher, told the court that Westrom had lived in Minnesota his entire life and wasn’t a flight risk.

According to court documents, Childs’ naked body was found in her apartment in an area known for prostitution. She had been stabbed multiple times all over her body, and blood covered the walls of her bedroom, living room and bathroom, according to a warrant.

The bathroom was flooding because the shower had been left turned on. Finger, palm and foot prints were discovered at the scene, investigators said.

The case was reopened in 2015 by a Minneapolis homicide detective and an FBI special agent, who decided to take another look because of advances in DNA testing. Samples from the scene were sent to the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and a private DNA company.

The samples were later run through the genealogy website.

Westrom’s next court date was set for March 13.

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