Grace Pastoor covers crime, courts and social issues for the Bemidji Pioneer. Contact her at (218) 333-9796 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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ST. PAUL — Nearly a year after the Bemidji community discovered that Brandon Bjerknes had engaged in sexual conversations with his students, his victims and their families continue to suffer. One girl is currently in a state mental hospital due to multiple suicide attempts. At least two more have had to make trips to the emergency room after cutting themselves. Some have been bullied by other students. Some can't trust boys or men.
BEMIDJI, Minn.—A Bemidji man who sexually assaulted a vulnerable adult while he was employed at an area REM home was sentenced to 180 days in jail Monday, Jan. 29. Anthony Leonard Granger, 53, also received a stayed sentence of four years in prison. He will not have to spend any time in prison as long as he complies with the conditions of his probation for the next 15 years.
WALKER, Minn.—A Cass Lake, Minn., woman police say was present for the shooting death of Brandi Shank—also known as Brandi Strong—was charged Friday, Jan. 26, with two counts of aiding another who they say committed second-degree unintentional murder. A criminal complaint filed Friday accused Sara Renae LaRose, 41, of giving investigators "false or misleading" information about the November shooting. Brandon Joseph Roy, 24, of Cass Lake, was charged in November with second-degree unintentional murder in Shank's death.
RED LAKE, Minn.—The Red Lake Tribal Council voted Tuesday, Jan 9, to rescind a resolution accepting a land swap agreement with Enbridge Energy. The tribal council voted 5 to 3 to rescind the resolution that, in December 2015, accepted $18.5 million in exchange for a parcel of land about 16 miles south of the reservation. The land, located near West Four Legged Lake and Leonard, Minn., is home to Enbridge-owned oil pipelines that were installed by Lakehead Pipeline Co. Inc. before the reservation realized it owned the land.
RED LAKE, Minn.—The Red Lake Tribal Council voted Tuesday, Jan. 9, to rescind a resolution accepting a land swap agreement with Enbridge Energy. The tribal council voted 5 to 3 to rescind the resolution that, in December 2015, accepted $18.5 million in exchange for a parcel of land about 16 miles south of the reservation. The land, located near West Four Legged Lake and Leonard, Minn., is home to Enbridge-owned oil pipelines that were installed by Lakehead Pipeline Co. Inc. before the reservation realized it owned the land.
BEMIDJI, Minn. — Recent documents in the federal case against a former Bemidji Middle School assistant principal who used social media to prey on his students paint dramatically different pictures of Brandon Mark Bjerknes, and argue for dramatically different prison sentences. Bjerknes' attorney, Peter Wold, and the U.S. Attorney's Office both submitted arguments for their preferred sentences Jan. 2, a month before the former administrator is set to appear in federal court.
REDBY, Minn.—Recently released search warrants revealed additional details of a shooting on the Red Lake Indian Reservation in northwest Minnesota that has triggered a multi-county manhunt. In a Dec. 1 post to Twitter, the FBI issued a release asking for help apprehending Derek Jon Paddy, 21, of Red Lake. The tweet said that Paddy was involved in a Thanksgiving Day armed robbery and a Nov. 30 shooting on the reservation in Redby, and is considered armed and dangerous. The FBI would not provide any more information.
BEMIDJI, Minn. - Two Burger King restaurants in Bemidji, Minn. temporarily closed Thursday, Nov. 30 after more than two dozen people contracted salmonella after eating there. Doug Schultz, a spokesperson with the Minnesota Department of Health, said the department has confirmed 27 cases, and received reports of four more probable cases. Both Burger King sites in Bemidji voluntarily decided to close Thursday.
RED LAKE, Minn. -- The bodies of two people missing on Upper Red Lake since Sunday were found Monday afternoon. According to a news release from the Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office the bodies of the two missing people were recovered at about 3 p.m. Authorities have not officially identified the bodies, but law enforcement and emergency personnel have been searching for Melissa Seidenstricker, 29, of Princeton, Minn., and Zeth Knyphausen, 28, of Stacy, Minn.
WALKER — A Cass Lake man was charged with murder Tuesday morning, two days after a Cass Lake woman died from a gunshot wound to the head. Brandon Joseph Roy, 24, was arraigned in Walker shortly after the Cass County Attorney’s Office charged him with one count of second-degree unintentional murder and one count of first-degree aggravated robbery. Roy was escorted into the courtroom Tuesday by three bailiffs and communicated mostly with nods throughout his arraignment. He cried occasionally during the hearing.