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Prosecutors: Grand Rapids teen planned to kill "snitch"

Prosecutors say a Grand Rapids teenager intended to kill another teen and burn his body in a mine dump, believing he had snitched to police about a fight, and enlisted help from another teen who he also planned to kill if he became suspicious.

Andrew Gary Dowling
Andrew Gary Dowling, 18, of Grand Rapids, Minn. Photo from Duluth News-Tribune

Prosecutors say a Grand Rapids teenager intended to kill another teen and burn his body in a mine dump, believing he had snitched to police about a fight, and enlisted help from another teen who he also planned to kill if he became suspicious.

Tobias Mark Lanum, 18, and Andrew Gary Dowling, 18, both of Grand Rapids, are charged with first- and second-degree aiding and abetting attempted murder and first- and second-degree aiding and abetting assault. The charges come after John Walter Bennett, 18, of Bovey was stabbed Friday in the Seven Cities area north of Coleraine.

Bennett was stabbed eight times in the chest, abdomen, spine and leg, and also had a laceration on his throat. He was treated at Grand Itasca Clinic and Hospital and later released.

According to a criminal complaint, Bennett told investigators he went to the mine dump with Dowling, Lanum and others under the impression that he was going to a party. However, Bennett said after exiting the vehicle, Lanum called him a snitch, held a knife to his throat, and began stabbing him. Bennett said Dowling kicked him as Lanum stabbed him.

Bennett said Lanum and Dowling fled the scene when another car pulled into the area. Authorities arrested Dowling about 45 minutes after the incident. Lanum turned himself in to authorities about eight hours later.

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According to the complaint, Dowling told investigators that Lanum sent him a text message after they arrived at Seven Cities stating plans to stab Bennett and burn him. Dowling told investigators he believed Lanum assaulted Bennett because he believed Bennett had snitched to law enforcement about a fight the previous week in Grand Rapids.

Investigators say Lanum also had sent a text message to a third party stating plans to kill Bennett and burn his body, and stating that he would not hesitate to kill Dowling as well if he became suspicious.

At hearings on Tuesday, a judge set bail for Lanum at $250,000 without conditions or $100,000 with conditions, and set bail for Dowling at $100,000 without conditions or $50,000 with conditions. The conditions include no contact with the victim, no use of alcohol or nonprescribed controlled substances, not leaving the state without the court's permission, appearing at court hearings, and keeping in contact with attorneys.

The Bemidji Pioneer and the Grand Forks Herald are Forum Communications Company newspapers.

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