These days we seldom have dinner with every family member present (even excluding those who are in jail, residential treatment or college), and tonight we had one person missing, too. But the rest of us were eating our hamburgers, munching on our chips and eating orange slices. We are nearly finished eating and our sixteen-year-old son looks at me and says, "Dad?" "Yeah," I reply, just before drinking my last sip of water.
"There's a newspaper article about Mike."
"Oh, there is? How do you know?"
"One of my teachers showed it to me at school."
"What did it say?"
"Something about how he broke into the church and then put a gun on a table or something."
I promptly excused myself from the table and jumped online to see what I could see. (We do not subscribe to print versions of any daily newspaper, so we wouldn't have seen it that way). Because the church is located in a county different from the one in which we reside, it is in that county's newspaper that the following article appears. I'm not linking it to this blog because sometimes the link is inactive after a short period of time, but full credit for the article belongs to the St. Peter Herald:
2/27/2008 2:41:00 PM Email this article • Print this article
Mankato man charged with felony witness tampering
By Kurt Hildebrandt
ST. PETER - An 18-year-old Mankato man faces five felony charges including witness tampering for his role in a break-in at a Methodist church in North Mankato on February 15.
Michael Ward Fletcher has been charged in Nicollet County District Court with felony counts of first degree aggravated witness tampering, terroristic threats, first degree burglary, theft and first degree criminal damage to property. A warrant has been issued for his arrest.
On February 15, North Mankato Police received a report from an employee at the United Methodist Church's education building that someone had entered the building between 9 and 10:30 p.m. on February 14 and removed a safe. The suspect(s) gained access by breaking several windows as well as doing damage to the main office and its contents.
The employee informed police the safe contained several blank checks, several signed checks and other financial information belonging to the church.
Later that day, Mankato Police contacted North Mankato Police to report they found a safe matching a description of the one missing from the church. It appeared as if the safe had been drug on the ground to the 500 block of West Sixth Street in Mankato. A tool box was also found at the scene as well as tools that appeared to have been used to open the safe.
A subsequent investigation determined that Fletcher and a 17-year old male from Mankato were the main suspects in the case. The 17-year old had originally told police he had been with a female friend of his the night in question, but the female denied his claim when police called her to verify his story.
They also learned the tool box belonged to the 17-year old's stepfather.
According to the report, the female friend and two other females who were at her residence later informed police that on the morning of February 17 Fletcher had entered their residence to talk to them about the night in question. They claimed that while Fletcher was talking to them he pulled out a black handgun and laid it on a nearby coffee table which frightened all three of them. One of the female witnesses informed police that Fletcher had pointed the same gun at her one time prior to this incident.
With these five felony counts, plus the other counts he's managed to rack up in our county over the past year, I fear that Mike's public accessibility has come to a screeching halt.
It's strange what you can learn at the dinner table. Even when you don't really want to know.