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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ELLSWORTH — Michaela Sousa faced stiff headwinds going into her sentencing hearing Tuesday in Pierce County Circuit Court. The 26-year-old had skipped out of two trials charging her with felony child abuse, the second of which ended in February with a guilty verdict and an empty defendant's chair. The unusual circumstances of her trial marked an apparent flight pattern that included Sousa running from police upon learning she was being arrested in 2016 after her daughter was found with serious head injuries.
A Black River Falls man serving jail time for a child support offense faces a new charge after allegedly being found with methamphetamine inside the St. Croix County jail. Robert A. Wilkinson made his initial court appearance Thursday, July 19, on one count of meth possession near certain places. The modifier requires defendants to perform 100 hours of community service if convicted. Jailers reported finding Wilkinson with two items of meth last month during a shakedown prompted by a jailhouse informant.
As Nicki Adeladel lost consciousness, she was resolved to the likelihood that the horrific town of Hudson crash she'd endured would end her life. That's why it was vital for her to see her mother's face when she came to. "It helped me to know I was alive," the St. Paul woman said. "I was expecting to see the deceased family members." Adeladel wasn't the only one who feared the worst. The July 10, 2017, crash on Trout Brook Road left Adeladel stranded for at least five hours with injuries so severe that her legs needed multiple surgeries and her arm had to be amputated.
A River Falls man was seriously injured Tuesday morning after the motorcycle he was driving was struck by a pickup truck in Hudson. Hudson police said the motorcyclist, whose identity wasn't immediately available, sustained severe leg injuries in the crash, which occurred just before 8 a.m. on Carmichael Road. Police said the pickup driver, a Hudson man, was southbound on Carmichael Road turning onto the eastbound Interstate 94 on ramp when it struck the motorcycle, which was northbound on Carmichael. The motorcyclist was taken by ambulance to Regions Hospital in St. Paul.
STILLWATER — Data from the cellphone of a North Hudson man involved in a fatal crash will be reviewed before his trial next year — nearly three years after the collision that claimed the life of a Hudson mother. According to Minnesota court records in Washington County, prosecutors and lawyers for 22-year-old Drew Fleming will now be able to utilize data from the phone he had with him at the time of the crash that killed Megan Goeltz, who was pregnant at the time of incident.
NEW RICHMOND — There is little doubt time is running out on the Lowrey Hotel. The inn, which caters to low-income renters whose struggles often involve addiction and criminal activity, is facing an Aug. 31 expiration on its lease. After that, the tenants, whose legal and financial status often create barriers to affordable housing, will be left with few options. Lowrey owner Stacy Wright said she has worked for years to earn the trust — not just of community leaders, but also of her tenants — and is saddened to see what Sept. 1 will bring.
A St. Croix County judge told a chronic drunk driver this week that decisions made during his next prison stint will likely determine how much longer he'll continue wearing a jail uniform. "If you don't change, sir, you're going to be in orange for the rest of your life," Judge Edward Vlack said Tuesday, July 17, while sentencing Roberts resident Shawn A. Harstad.
Mahlon Mitchell isn't fazed by the fact he's never held public office. In fact, the Fitchburg resident said he sees it as an advantage as he makes his bid to be Wisconsin's next governor. "We have had enough political pundits" and career politicians in Madison, the 41-year-old said last week in a RiverTown Multimedia interview.
NEW RICHMOND — There are no frills at the Lowrey Hotel. For $350 a month, you get a bed, a desk, a chair and a dresser. Cheap plastic racks provide a makeshift food pantry if you like. The hotel has one microwave for its 50 guests to share. Television, cable or internet? Try somewhere else. Lowrey owner Stacy Wright outfits guests with linens, towels and pillows that they can bring downstairs weekly to be laundered. She said she's not there to pamper her guests.
Officers on alert following a $25,000 fireworks theft in Somerset arrested a group of Twin Cities men in June after they arrived in the middle of the night outside a St. Croix County fireworks store in trucks allegedly packed with tools to commit a burglary.