Long-time Union Lake mannequins nabbed by thieves
By Kevin Bonham
Forum News Service
Authorities are looking for clues into the disappearance of two longtime fixtures of the Union Lake community near Erskine, Minn.
Manny and Kin, a pair of mannequins that have been part of Lillian Rux’s family for more than 30 years and have become a lakeside landmark, went missing sometime overnight Friday.
“We don’t have any suspects at this time,” Polk County Chief Deputy Sheriff James Tadman said. “They were last seen in the yard down by the lake at about 11:30 p.m. We received a call the next day that they were missing.”
The deputy who investigated the Manny-and-Kin-napping Saturday spoke with neighbors and others in the area, according to Tadman.
“No one saw anything. No one heard anything,” he said.
No ransom notes or demands have been received.
Lillian and Floyd Rux initially adopted Manny and Kin about three decades ago, after Lillian’s brother, who had a refuse collection company in Thief River Falls, rescued them from a Dumpster behind a local store.
“He played a trick on me,” she said. “We lived out in the country by Thief River Falls and he put them out there in the yard.”
The Rux family then decided Manny and Kin should spend summers at their Union Lake cabin, where they modeled the latest thrift store fashions, changing clothes to fit the season or sometimes the holiday.
Floyd died in 1997.
“He would have been so upset,” she said. “He’s the one that got this going.”
When the mannequins disappeared, they were outfitted for the Independence Day holiday, both in white shorts and sunglasses. Manny was wearing a blue-and-white palm-tree print shirt, while Kin was donning a solid red top. Both were wearing sandals, Manny’s black, Kin’s red.
Manny sports a dark mustache, a look lakeside neighbors have become accustomed to.
“If we don't get them out right away in the spring, people come by looking for them,” Lillian said. “They also bring friends by to take pictures.”
Lillian, who will be 82 next month, said her daughter-in-law, Karen Rux, does the dressing and grooming.
“I don’t know how they did it and nobody heard anything,” she said of the thieves, adding that the mannequins were fastened securely by ropes to metal posts that are anchored in a concrete slab.
“No ropes are left,” she said.
There was no obvious sign of a struggle, although Lillian Rux did note one curious element to the crime.
“They didn’t leave anything, except for a red shoe from the lady that was left behind, going west.”
It was Kin’s red sandal.
Lillian has placed posters around the area, asking anyone who might have seen the mannequins or any suspicious activity early Saturday morning to contact her or the sheriff’s department. A reward has been offered.
This actually is not the first time Manny and Kin have gone missing. They were stolen back in 2002.
“That time, they were easy to catch. They were not too far from my house,” she said.
The suspects involved that time were new residents of the neighborhood who had rented a nearby cabin, she said.
Lillian got the mannequins back, but had to repair or replace some broken parts.
This time, she’s not so confident the story will have a happy ending.
“They’re probably in the bottom of the lake,” she said. “It’s just hard to take it all in, to know that they actually did it. Who would do that?”
Anyone knowing the whereabouts of Manny and Kin, the Rux family mannequins, is asked to contact the Polk County Sheriff’s Department at (218) 281-0431.