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Accused burglars picked the wrong target, a Minnesota sheriff's home

Michael Allen Chenoweth, left, and Ashley Dawn Schultz

GRANITE FALLS, Minn. — Two burglary suspects are in custody after a homeowner's home security system alerted him Wednesday, Dec. 27, that a vehicle was in the driveway of his rural home while his 12-year-old son was home alone.

The homeowner hopped into his squad car, contacted his son en route and shortly afterward, pulled the suspects over on a rural roadway and with gun drawn, took them into custody with the help of a sheriff's deputy and the Granite Falls police chief.

Michael Allen Chenoweth, 36, of Springfield, and Ashley Dawn Schultz, 29, of Marshall, are currently held in the Yellow Medicine County Jail, where the homeowner they are accused of burglarizing is the sheriff.

The court on Thursday set bail at $150,000 unconditional and $100,000 with conditions for Chenoweth and at $150,000 unconditional and $75,000 with conditions for Schultz. Both suspects are charged in Yellow Medicine County District Court with felony counts of first- and third-degree burglary.

According to allegations in a criminal complaint, Sheriff Bill Flaten was at the Yellow Medicine County Sheriff's Office at 9:38 a.m. Wednesday when he received notification from an application on his cell phone that his home camera detected activity in the driveway of his home outside of Granite Falls. The phone showed a silver vehicle in his driveway and a male with a hoodie walking up to his front door.

The sheriff contacted his son, who peeked out a window and confirmed that a car was there. The sheriff watched on his phone as a male and a female walked out of his detached garage with armloads of stuff back to the car. His son texted the car's direction, leading his father and the chief deputy toward the suspects and eventual arrest at gunpoint.

Two were taken into custody with the help of Chief Deputy Wayne DeBlieck and Granite Falls Police Chief Brian Struffert, who also had reached the site. In the suspects' car, the officers found a variety of Dewalt power tools and battery charger, a game camera, a depth finder, and other items, some with the name "Flaten'' inscribed on them and all missing from the sheriff's garage, according to details in the complaint.

Also found in the car was drug paraphernalia including a syringe, digital scale, glass pipe and powdery residue all believed to belong to the suspects.

When taken into custody, Chenoweth had a folding knife clipped to his front pants pocket, and a fixed blade knife and sheath tied to his belt. A knife was located on Schultz when she was booked into the jail.

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

(320) 214-4335
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