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Horse ranch owners, St. Cloud woman charged in sisters’ disappearance

HERMAN, MINN. -- Three more people have been charged in the disappearance of two Lakeville sisters who went missing in April 2013 amid a custody dispute in Dakota County and were found safe last month at a horse farm in western Minnesota. Charged...

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Gianna Rucki (left) and Samantha Rucki. File photos.

 

HERMAN, MINN. -- Three more people have been charged in the disappearance of two Lakeville sisters who went missing in April 2013 amid a custody dispute in Dakota County and were found safe last month at a horse farm in western Minnesota.

Charged Friday with two counts of deprivation of custodial/parental rights involving the concealment of a minor were Douglas C. Dahlen, 53, and his wife, Gina S. Dahlen, 47, the owners of the Herman, Minn., farm, and Deirdre E. Evavold, 51, of St. Cloud.

Evavold managed the unsuccessful 2014 campaign of state Supreme Court candidate Michelle MacDonald, who is the former attorney for the girls' mother, Sandra Grazzini-Rucki.

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Grazzini-Rucki was arrested Oct. 18 by U.S. marshals in Florida on charges of felony deprivation of parental rights for her alleged involvement in the disappearance of her daughters. She remained in Dakota County Jail on Friday in lieu of $1 million bail.

Before the sisters disappeared, a Dakota County district judge transferred physical custody of Grazzini-Rucki's five children, including the two girls, to a paternal aunt who was going to live with the children in their family home.

The charges contained in Grazzini-Rucki's complaint say the girls -- then ages 13 and 14 -- ran away from the home in Lakeville in April 2013 and were picked up by Grazzini-Rucki.

Two days later, Grazzini-Rucki and Evavold allegedly left the sisters with the Dahlens, and the girls stayed with them until they were found Nov. 18.

Authorities said Samantha Rucki, 17, and Gianna Rucki, 16, were "seemingly in good health" when they were found at the White Horse Ranch, about 40 miles west of Alexandria.

"Concealing children and keeping them from a parent for over two and half years in violation of a court order is unconscionable," Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom said Friday in a statement announcing the latest charges.

According to the new criminal charges, investigators got their big break in the case when they searched Evavold's house Oct. 21 when a cellphone seized in the search contained voice memos from the girls recorded shortly after they ran away, as well as a photo that led investigators to Douglas Dahlen's auto repair shop in Herman.

Investigators also determined that a second photo showing Samantha Rucki hugging a donkey was taken at the Dahlens' White Horse Ranch.

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When investigators arrived at the ranch, Douglas Dahlen told them the girls had been there for about 2 1/2 years.

Evavold and the Dahlens have been issued summons to appear in court to face the charges.

In November 2013, the Dakota County district judge awarded sole legal and physical custody of the Rucki sisters and their siblings to their father.

Related Topics: ST. CLOUDFAMILY
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