Thief River Falls police are searching for a man who failed to appear in court for sentencing on numerous charges, including burglary, theft, criminal damage and methamphetamine crimes involving children. New charges were filed while he was out on bail.
The department took to Facebook on Tuesday to ask for help finding Kristopher Aaron Walter, 34, Thief River Falls. Pennington County Jail Administrator Susan Halverson said Walter did not escape from jail, but missed several court hearings.
Walter has three cases pending in Pennington County. On Dec. 31, he pleaded guilty of burglary, theft, escape from custody, property damage and possession of a controlled substance. The charges stem from two cases filed in October and May.
According to a criminal complaint, Walter used a chainsaw at Walmart sometime between April 24-26 and cut a section of a tarp screen wall in the home and garden section and left the store with the tool. A man was seen on video surveillance leaving the store on a bike with a very distinct trailer, which later was found to match the one Walter owned, the complaint said.
On April 27, a Walmart employee allegedly confronted the same man in the parking lot attempting to steal two weed trimmers.
During a search, investigators found clothes matching those seen on the suspect in video surveillance and numerous drugs and paraphernalia related to marijuana and methamphetamine, the complaint said.
A juvenile investigator assisted the case because it was allegedly reported that a 3 month old lived in the home. The home had "near unlivable" conditions, the complaint said, including broken glass, dirty clothes and diapers scattered throughout the home and a baby bath filled with dirty water. There was unfinished electric work throughout the home, according to the complaint.
In the second charges, which were filed while the first case was pending, Walter pleaded guilty to burglarizing a local business and later fleeing from custody.
The complaint said Label Market, Inc. in Thief River Falls, was burglarized Oct. 23. An ATV, computer, laptop, several tools, projector, cooler, jacket, organizer and $150 worth of candy-mostly Snickers-was allegedly taken from the building. A glove and Walter's players club card from Shooting Star Casino were found near a door with scratches on the locking plate, the complaint said.
An investigator recognized the glove from a previous case, the court document said. Walter was stopped in another part of town and brought to the Pennington County Law Enforcement Center for questioning, the court document said. Officers said they found a half-eaten Snickers in his pocket.
Walter was placed in handcuffs so officers could bring him to booking, but during the transport he broke free and ran across the jail parking lot toward Lincoln High School, the report said. He was captured and brought back to jail, according to the complaint.
Walter allegedly told a woman to meet him outside Slumberland Furniture earlier that morning, and officers found a garbage bag filled with unopened Snickers other stolen goods outside, the report said.
Walter entered guilty pleas in both cases Dec. 31 and was out on bond. He was scheduled for sentencing in both cases Jan. 28, but failed to appear in court. A warrant for his arrest was issued that day and served Feb. 15, according to court records.
A court document said police were called to 301 Knight Ave. S. because a security alert company employee found the home's doors pried open Feb. 14. Investigators found that $20,000 cash and about $28,000 worth of gold South African coins were stolen from a safe in the bedroom, the complaint said.
About a week earlier, an investigator from the Pine to Prairie Task Force called Thief River Falls police because a large amount of South African coins were pawned in Grand Forks, the complaint said. Surveillance allegedly showed three people pawning the coins, who investigators later identified as Walter, Christopher Michael Zimmerman and Nikki Larson.
Walter was arrested on outstanding warrants at America's Best Value Inn and was later charged for his role in the February burglary. He appeared in court Feb. 19 but posted bond sometime after.
He failed to appear for hearings on the first two cases Monday. Warrants were issued in both cases, and Walter is scheduled to appear again on the newest charges March 25. If he does not appear, another warrant will be issued for his arrest.
The police department is urging anyone with information to contact them at (218) 681-6161.