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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COTTAGE GROVE, Minn.—Customer complaints led to criminal charges Tuesday for a 31-year-old Minnesota man accused of bilking the elderly out of snow-removal payments in Minnesota, Wisconsin and seven other states. The Wisconsin justice department on Tuesday, May 8, announced five theft charges — two felonies and three misdemeanors — against Matthew D. Erickson, the owner of Snow Angels LLC.
HUDSON, Wis. — Bail was set at $500,000 on Monday, April 16, for a western Wisconsin man who prosecutors say killed his 19-year-old son. St. Croix County District Attorney Michael Nieskes said in the bail hearing in Hudson, Wis., that first-degree intentional homicide charges were expected to be filed Tuesday against 42-year-old Kayle Alan Fleischauer of New Richmond in the shooting death of his son, St. Paul resident Chase Alan Fleischauer who also had attended college in Brainerd.
RIVER FALLS, Wis. — The River Falls school community was shaken Monday, March 19, following the death of a student. Superintendent Jamie Benson sent an automated voice message to families in the district confirming the death of a sixth-grade student. "The death of any young person is a loss that, in one way or another, affects us all," he said in the recorded message. Authorities were called at about 3:30 p.m. Monday to the middle school for a 911 report of an unresponsive student. The child, an 11-year-old girl, was found dead, according to River Falls police.
NEW RICHMOND, Wis.—The trail for a New Richmond man who allegedly bolted from authorities in far western Wisconsin went cold last week. Too cold, in fact, according to court records. A criminal complaint against Kenneth R. Shutes Jr. states he ran from a Feb. 6 traffic stop, but eventually called 911 to report he was so cold he needed an ambulance.
HUDSON, Wis. — A guilty plea was entered and two sexual assault charges were dismissed this week in the case of a former Hudson girls basketball coach. Under a plea agreement announced Tuesday, Oct. 31, Louis J. French pleaded guilty to using a computer to facilitate a child sex crime. Three other charges — first-degree child sex assault, repeated sex assault of the same child and causing a child to view sexual activity — were dismissed as part of the agreement.
ELLSWORTH, Wis. — A rural Elmwood man might have used unconventional means to raise dogs, but it didn't amount to the dozens of crimes he's charged with, his attorney claims. Stuart Earl West had research that backed up the diet of deer and cattle carcasses he fed the yellow Labrador dogs he bred and sold, defense attorney Keith Belzer said during the first day of testimony Monday, Oct. 23, in West's trial.
RED WING, Minn. — Between dusk and the twilight hours of dawn, Minnesota State Patrol trooper Kendall LeMay works the graveyard shift covering a large swath of land stretching from the St. Paul to the St. Croix River dividing Wisconsin from Minnesota. His focus is mainly taking drunken and impaired drivers off the road. So far this year, he's arrested more than 60 drivers suspected of DWI, the second most of any trooper in the state. Last year, he logged more than 100.
HUDSON, Wis. — Words weren't enough for Alexis McKinley to describe what happened to a little boy who suffered a broken leg at the hands of a daycare worker. Though she tried. "This case is terrible," said McKinley, an assistant St. Croix County district attorney. "It's infuriating. It's sad. It's really hard to find the words to describe what happened to the victim." Instead, the prosecutor played a video of the Feb. 24, 2016, incident that led to a conviction against 27-year-old Ashley Garrity.
RIVER FALLS, Wis. — A proposal that critics say could spell doom for taprooms in Wisconsin breweries remains afloat, according to a Wisconsin State Assembly member. Rep. Shannon Zimmerman refuted a Wednesday, July 12, media report that the proposal — which has not been made public — is effectively dead.
ELLSWORTH, Wis. — The driver in a 2016 motorcycle crash that left a Prescott mom dead was charged last week with homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle. St. Croix County prosecutors filed the charge against Joshua D. Sykora, a 35-year-old Hastings. Minn., resident. Authorities said the June 25, 2016, crash in the town of Troy killed Sykora's then-girlfriend, 38-year-old Brooke A. Ptacek-Baker, a Hastings business owner and mother of two.