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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Washington County prosecutors on Wednesday charged an Oakdale woman with murder in connection with the overdose death of a Scandia, Minn., man. The woman, 21-year-old Emily Katherine Frye, is charged with one count of third-degree murder. She is accused of selling Frank Eck, a 23-year-old Scandia man, methadone. Eck died Aug. 1 of what a medical examiner ruled "acute methadone toxicity." "We have a rash of overdose deaths, not just in Washington County, but all through the metro area in the last year and a half," Washington County Attorney Pete Orput said through a news release.
A Woodbury man suspected of selling drugs was arrested Saturday, Jan. 5, after police executed a search warrant at his residence. The suspect, Jermaine Louis Avril Scott, 25, was charged Monday with one count of fifth-degree drug sales, a felony. According to a criminal complaint: Police began investigating Scott after receiving reports of suspected drug activity at his Cornelia Trail residence since mid-December. Those reports prompted police to perform a "trash pull" at Scott's home on Jan.
A Woodbury woman was charged last week following allegations that she brought a mentally impaired teenager to Ramsey County, where the 19-year-old was sexually exploited on multiple occasions. The St. Paul City Attorney's Office charged the woman, 50-year-old Cheryl Ann Tchida, with one count of neglect of a vulnerable adult, a gross misdemeanor. According to a criminal complaint, Tchida was the teenager's legal guardian. "The facts in this case are outrageous," said St. Paul City Attorney Sara Grewing.
Tears, laughs and a lighthearted dance tribute marked a ceremony held Thursday, Jan. 3, in honor of Andy Sommer, a Woodbury High School Spanish teacher who died in December. Audience members nearly filled the school's auditorium, where speakers shared memories of Sommer, who died Dec. 19 following a battle with esophageal cancer. Speakers included WHS social studies teacher Hank Freeman, who, in a playful tribute, told audience members she was able to connect with Sommer by going to her "happy place." "Tell the kids to laugh," Freeman said she believed Sommer would say.
A Woodbury woman noticed a white truck following her home, but it wasn't until she received a text message from a neighbor that she became truly alarmed. The woman, responding to a text reading "There is a dude looking in your windows," ran out of her apartment on Dec. 22 and confronted a man outside her residence who authorities said begged her not to call police. Officers later found the man, identified in a criminal complaint as Jeffrey Scott Hurst, at his Cottage Grove home, where he allegedly admitted to spying on the Woodbury woman. Hurst was charged Dec.
Lee Vague has never known a Woodbury Public Safety Department that didn't include Jay Alberio. The two stood shoulder-to-shoulder the day Vague was sworn in as a rookie cop and Alberio was promoted to sergeant. But for the first time in his career at Woodbury, Vague, now the city's Public Safety director, returns to work without Alberio at the police station. The 55-year-old investigative commander retired on Friday, Dec.
Woodbury made some noise over the holidays. The Royals won the title Saturday in the Rotary US Bank Holiday Classic tournament in Rochester with a 93-72 win over Rochester John Marshall, the No. 10 ranked team in Class 3A. Senior standout Renard Suggs led the way for Woodbury in the title game with 31 points. Fellow senior Robert Claypool added 19 points against John Marshall, while junior Matt Ambriz chipped in 17.
Witnesses said the gunfire sounded like a war zone. A tense situation Aug. 31 at the Red Roof Inn led police to open fire on a St. Paul man running out of a room where another man allegedly held several hostages at gunpoint and sexually assaulted teenage girls during the episode. When it was all over, the St. Paul man, Mark E. Henderson, was dead and a suspect, 24-year-old Demetrius Ballinger was arrested and charged with 27 felonies, including second-degree attempted murder and four counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct.
Fire destroyed the second Woodbury home in less than a week in an overnight blaze on Woodbury Drive. Four people at the home at 4540 Woodbury Drive were displaced as a result of the fire, firefighters said. All residents escaped without injury. Firefighters responded at 1:26 a.m. Thursday to 4540 Woodbury Drive for a house fire report. Todd Johnson, Woodbury's fire chief and deputy public safety director, said first responders arrived to find fire in the roof.
Firefighters were able to save a portion of a house and two pets in a Sunday blaze on Timberlea Drive. Crews responded at 2:20 p.m. to 2526 Timberlea Drive, where a passerby spotted smoke and flames near the home's front door. Woodbury Fire Department Cmdr. John Wallgren said the fire had spread to an attached garage and up into the home's rafters after running through the eaves. "They did a quick exterior offensive attack," he said. "That's something that we actually put emphasis on in our training this year.