Staff Directory 270190981

Liz Sawyer

Reporter | Breaking news, crime and corrections
Phone: 612-673-4648
Location: Minneapolis
Other languages: None

Liz Sawyer covers breaking news, crime and corrections for the Star Tribune. She previously wrote about suburban life in the south metro.

Sawyer graduated from Syracuse University's Newhouse School of Public Communications with a degree in newspaper and online journalism. She worships her alma mater's college hoops team and believes that an orange is, in fact, a suitable mascot.
Recent content from Liz Sawyer

Family, friends identify man shot to death in Crystal as 20-year-old

Authorities have identified a person of interest in the shooting but have not yet taken the person into custody, said Crystal Deputy Chief Brian Hubbard.

BCA identifies victims, suspect in deadly Nevis shooting

Bryce Bellomo killed two of his wife's sisters before dying by suicide.
U football player kicked off team after being charged with assaulting police officer

U football player kicked off team after being charged with assaulting police officer

Maxwell T. Janes, 19, reportedly punched a Minneapolis police officer in the face while intoxicated.
Officer, suspect exchange gunfire in Hubbard County, according to dispatch audio

Officer, suspect exchange gunfire in Hubbard County, according to dispatch audio

Details were slim late Thursday, but multiple law enforcement agencies, including the BCA, were involved in the incident.
New Corrections Commissioner Paul Schnell has made a point of visiting the prisons he oversees, such as the one in Stillwater he visited.

Openness, optimism are hallmarks of Minnesota's new corrections chief

Paul Schnell aims to make the state's prisons safer and saner.
During the polar vortex, Union Depot was transformed to help house around 100 homeless adults over three nights. But Friday, Ramsey County officials d

Homeless camp out at Ramsey County Sheriff's Office after Union Depot is closed to them

The move came after the Ramsey County Board questioned the depot's use.
Warden Eddie Miles, right, led Minnesota House members Rep. Jack Considine Jr., left, and Rep. Brad Tabke, center, out of Stillwater prison at the end

Minn. legislators go behind prison walls for a deeper look

The unprecedented legislative hearing at Stillwater prison comes as the Department of Corrections is reeling from the deadliest year in the agency's history.
Police say Leigh Elizabeth Meska, 31, of Goodview, Minn., went missing on Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2019.

Southern Minnesota woman who went missing on way to work is found in Illinois

Leigh Meska, 31, turned up Thursday in Rockford, but authorities did not say how she got there.
A cyclist decked out in cold weather gear rode past the city skyline and a frozen Bde Maka Ska in Minneapolis.

Minnesota builds up bragging rights, looks to add more before epic weekend warm-up

For nearly seven consecutive days, the state was designated the chilliest in the Lower 48.
Minneapolis police Sgt. Grant Snyder, center, and Pastor John Steger, with Grace In The City Church, far left, gave out hats, scarves, gloves and hot

Minneapolis police join efforts to hand out cold weather gear to homeless

Minneapolis police join efforts to prevent homeless people from getting frostbite.
TB outbreak tied to Minnesota St., Mankato under investigation

TB outbreak tied to Minnesota St., Mankato under investigation

The infectious disease was found in eight people associated with the school, including mostly current and former students.
Valerie Castile, mother of Philando Castile, spoke in St. Paul in April.

January: Disproportionate traffic stops hit minorities hard, panelists in Minneapolis stress

Community forum in Minneapolis on racial profiling looks to address racial disparities.
St. Louis Park officials said an officer-involved shooting was under investigation Saturday night.

Man dead after officer-involved shooting at St. Louis Park apartments

Incident at Louisiana Court Apartments began as a call on a domestic dispute.
Minnetonka schools, Jewish community denounce photo of Nazi salute, sign

Minnetonka schools, Jewish community denounce photo of Nazi salute, sign

An image depicting two Minnetonka High School students spread on social media, prompting a note from the district.
Steve Denzine, who works at the federal prison in Sandstone, played with his children Stella, 6, and Robbie, 3. Anticipating the federal shutdown, he

Morale low, anxiety high among federal prison workers in Minn.

Hundreds of Federal Bureau of Prisons employees missed their first paycheck Friday, and union leaders say the families are being forced to hastily cut costs.
Tamar Brayson Long, 20

2 Fridley men charged in fatal shooting of 17-year-old

Travon Shug Wallace ditched the murder weapon with his cousin, who later bragged about the shooting, authorities say.
Jayme Closs, shown Saturday morning at her aunt's home in Barron, Wis.

For Jayme Closs, the healing process is just beginning

It's likely to be a long, difficult process, but one where healing is possible, mental health professionals and survivors of childhood trauma say.
Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald was high-fived early Friday in the lobby of the Holiday Inn Express in Rice Lake, Wis., by an investigator who

'This is Jayme Closs! Call 911!' Missing Wisconsin 13-year-old found alive

Three people east of Gordon, Wis., described the dramatic moments when the 13-year-old was found almost three months after she disappeared: dirty with matted hair and wearing shoes too big for her.
The A West cell house at Stillwater prison.

Stillwater prison wing on lockdown after inmate assaults officer

After several attacks, union representing corrections officers has demanded more safety funding.
Larry Klimek was a Metro Transit bus operator.

White Bear Township man killed by brother as he arrived at New Year's party, court records show

Authorities say a potential motive in the murder-suicide remains unclear.

81-year-old woman dies in Rice County crash

An 81-year-old southeastern Minnesota woman died in a rear-end crash Saturday morning in Rice County. Officers responded to the scene on Hwy. 19 near Sciota…
The vehicle involved in Friday night's crash in St. Paul that killed one pedestrian and seriously injured the other was towed away.

Pedestrian struck, killed by SUV identified as St. Paul woman

The other pedestrian hit, a 22-year-old woman, was taken to Regions Hospital and is expected to survive.
The area in Inver Grove Heights where a pedestrian was struck and killed Saturday, the latest in a string of deaths in the Twin Cities metro area.

Hit-and-run driver kills Inver Grove Heights woman

A deadly weekend for pedestrians results in four fatalities over 48-hour stretch.

Suspect in Roseville holdup identified after robber forgot to wear mask during heist

A St. Paul man suspected of robbing a Roseville dollar store on Christmas Eve was quickly identified after forgetting to put on his mask. Quincy…
The vehicle involved in Friday night's crash in St. Paul that killed one pedestrian and seriously injured the other was towed away.

One killed, one injured by SUV in St. Paul

Four people who were in the vehicle were cooperating with investigators.

Cromwell man, 88, dies in Pine County crash

An 88-year-old northern Minnesota man died Thursday evening in a rollover crash in Pine County, authorities said. Junior Milton Krippner of Cromwell was traveling south…
An investigator worked Thursday night on Larpenteur Avenue W. near Rice Street in Roseville, where two people were hit by a vehicle and killed.

2 people struck by vehicle, killed on St. Paul-Roseville border

The incident happened on Larpenteur Avenue W. just west of Rice Street during the evening rush hour.
Body camera footage of the mental health call in November was released by the Hennepin County Attorney's Office.

Mpls. officers won't be charged in shooting death during mental health call

In dramatic body camera footage, the officers beg Travis Jordan to put down the knife. "Let's do this," he says as he comes toward them.
Larry Klimek worked at Metro Transit.

Family grieves after apparent murder-suicide in White Bear Township

It's not clear what led to Tuesday's violence.
The area near where two men were found dead in a home after police responded to a report of shots fired.

2 brothers dead in apparent murder-suicide in White Bear Township

Apparent murder-suicide took place during a party, and people were fleeing as authorities arrived.

Minnesota man charged with murder in death of his wife's baby

Suspect blamed a seizure; autopsy found "blunt force homicidal violence."
Aaron H. Doer­ing

University of Minnesota professor charged with domestic assault

Aaron Doering allegedly choked his fiancé.

4 corrections officers injured in scuffle at St. Cloud prison

The offender was immediately placed in restrictive housing, while all four Department of Corrections employees were evaluated at a hospital and later released.
FILE -- Former Minneapolis Police Officer Mohamed Noor, middle, leaves the Hennepin County Public Safety Facility with his attorney, Thomas Plunkett,

Noor defense team wants to perform 'tests' on squad car

Attorneys for Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor want to examine the squad car from which he fired the fatal shot at Justine Ruszczyk Damond in…
If you want to avoid riding home in a squad car this New Year’s Eve, hop a bus instead. Steve Fletcher wants to make downtown fun again. The first-t

In an effort to curb drunken driving, Metro Transit to offer free rides on New Year's Eve

Buses, light rail — even some taxis — offer free rides to discourage drunken driving.
The crash at 40th and University avenues NE. that left a pedestrian seriously injured was under investigation Saturday night.

Pedestrian seriously injured after being struck by vehicle in Columbia Heights

It happened just before 7 p.m. at 40th and University avenues NE.

One dead, several critically injured in crash near Little Falls

A medical helicopter responded to the scene on Forest Road, just north of Little Falls.
Somali leaders and other community members gathered outside the Amazon fulfillment center in Shakopee to protest working conditions on Friday.

Workers protest conditions at Amazon's Shakopee center

Somali-American workers cite special challenges at local fulfillment center.
Gavin M. Hutson

Normandale student charged with assaulting teachers allegedly had gun in backpack

Attacks followed request to suspect to stay after class to discuss his remarks to another student.
The attempt to kidnap an 8-year-old girl happened around 5:30 p.m. in the area of 41st Street and Chowen Avenue S. — just outside Lake Harriet Lower

Man tried to abduct girl, 8, outside Lake Harriet Lower Elementary School

Minneapolis police are asking for the public's help locating the man, described as white, about 50 to 60, with a long black beard.
Alan Geisenkoetter Jr.

Snowmobiler found guilty of 3rd-degree murder in drunken crash killing boy on lake

It took the jury just four hours to reach a unanimous decision in an emotional case that changed state law long before the trial began.
Mohamed Noor, center, accompanied by his legal team, Peter Wold, left, and Tom Plunkett, arrive to argue pretrial motions at a probable cause hearing

Judge approves adding second-degree murder charge against fired officer Noor

Judge Katherine Quaintance approved the state's request seeking an upgraded count in the shooting death of Justine Ruszczyk Damond.
The Rush City prison, shown around its opening.

Minnesota Department of Corrections in talks with Rush City prisoners after work strike

Rush City prisoners say they're being mistreated.

Robbinsdale hit-and-run suspect turns himself in to police

The 44-year-old motorist from Brooklyn Park walked into the Robbsindale Police Department.

Body found submerged in Crow River inside vehicle matching car of missing Monticello woman

Wright County sheriff’s deputies on Tuesday discovered a body inside a submerged vehicle in the Crow River believed to be a missing Monticello woman. Officers…

Robbinsdale police seek help locating hit-and run-suspect who hospitalized pedestrian

Robbinsdale police are seeking the public’s help in identifying a hit-and-run driver who seriously injured a pedestrian Monday evening. Officers responded to a crash report…

Authorities find dead man floating in Mississippi River in Minneapolis

Hennepin County sheriff's deputies and Minneapolis police responded to just past the St. Anthony Lock and Dam around noon.
Aaron Biard

North Mpls. precinct chief demoted after Christmas tree uproar

The lieutenant in charge of the day shift was also replaced after a photo of the tree surfaced on social media, sparking a public backlash.
The area around where the man was found dead in Minneapolis, just south of downtown.

Man dead in apparent homicide near Park and Franklin avenues in Minneapolis

The man had wounds indicating a recent physical altercation, which may have triggered a heart attack. He died at the scene.
Lifelong volunteer Ruth Knelman, 108, read “The Owl and the Kitty Cat” to children at Temple Israel.

In Minneapolis, Grandma Ruth, 108, remains a 'perpetual volunteer'

Ruth Knelman's mission of volunteerism began 65 years ago, when she, her late husband and young son moved to Minneapolis from North Dakota.
Amid falling snow during rush hour a bicyclist with purple lights adorning her bike makes her way along S. 9th St. in downtown Minneapolis on Wednesda

Lakeville woman critically hurt in crash on icy road after snow hits Twin Cities

It was one of hundreds of crashes as snow flurries slickened Twin Cities roadways just in time for the evening commute, slowing traffic.
The smashed gate at Duluth International Aiport on Friday morning.

Duluth man charged with crashing through airport gate, taking runway joyride

The joyride took place while a commercial flight was boarding, officials said, but the FBI does not believe it was related to terrorism.
Feben Ghilagaber works as a server at a restaurant in the airport marched with other workers during a rally for a $15 minimum wage Wednesday outside T

MSP Airport workers rally for $15 minimum wage, unionization

Though protesters chose the airport's busiest day to gather, traffic was not disrupted.

Montrose man pleads guilty to killing his 5-month-old baby

Darnell Jerome Davis, sentenced to 17 years in prison for second-degree murder, said he was sleep-deprived and trying to quiet his crying baby.

Two teenage pedestrians struck in St. Francis crosswalk, hospitalized

The 62-year-old driver from Isanti stopped at the scene and was cooperating with police.
Minneapolis firefighters were on the scene at the tent encampment in Minneapolis.

Mpls. homeless encampment fire caused by unattended heater

The cause has been ruled accidental.
Firefighters work outside the Robbinsdale senior living home that was evacuated Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018.

Two dozen people evacuated from Robbinsdale senior living home; repellent blamed

Some residents were taken to the hospital as a precaution.
Rod Thompson, former Shakopee schools superintendent.

Ex-Shakopee superintendent pleads guilty to felony theft, embezzlement

Rod Thompson's plea calls for two years in prison and restitution.
Missing toddler found and with mother, West St. Paul police say

Missing toddler found and with mother, West St. Paul police say

The 21-month-old had last been seen with her father on Wednesday night.
The BolaWrap nonlethal restraint was demonstrated to representatives from local police departments at the Chaska fire station.

Chaska PD becomes first Minnesota police department to test BolaWrap 100

Officials hope device will provide options to police.

Pedestrian killed in St. Cloud hit-and-run; 20-year-old later arrested

A pedestrian was struck and killed Wednesday afternoon in downtown St. Cloud by a 20-year-old motorist, who fled the scene and was later arrested by…
Rod Thompson

FBI: Ex-Shakopee superintendent sought bribe from school contractor

Rod Thompson, 53, is already facing 20 felony counts related to accusations that he embezzled more than $70,000 from the school district.
Feed My Starving Children founder Richard Proudfit in 2012.

Feed My Starving Children founder Richard Proudfit dies at 88

The Christian-based organization has packed and sent more than 2 billion meals to starving people in 70 countries around the world.
Guy Wicklander showed the indention in his skull from being bludgeoned with a wrench by an inmate in 1999.

Minnesota officers feel like 'outcasts' as prisoner attacks surge

Two deaths have put a spotlight on a dangerous job

Light snowfall causes transit delays in downtown Minneapolis

In northern Minnesota, a teenager died in a crash on an icy road early Saturday.
Officers taped off the street at the site on Morgan Avenue N. in Minneapolis where a man was fatally shot by police Friday afternoon.

Minneapolis police fatally shoot armed suicidal man

The confrontation came after officers responded to a mental health crisis call.
Quinn Nystrom has dedicated her life to easing the way for other Type 1 patients less able to afford care and insulin.

Diabetes advocate shares personal journey to inspire hope

Quinn Nystrom of Baxter, Minn., is a national diabetes advocate who travels the country sharing lessons from her own battle with Type 1 diabetes and empowering others to conquer the disease.
Julie Tholen of St. Paul chants during at a protest in support of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

Hundreds rally at Minnesota State Capitol in defense of Mueller investigation

Crowd at Capitol chanted, "Rule of law!" and sang "This Land Is Your Land."
Trimell Chamberlain, left, and Try’Reshia Chamberlain

Brooklyn Park police locate missing 3-year-old

Brooklyn Park police have located the missing 3-year-old girl who authorities say was abducted by her father last May.The child was turned over to detectives…
Robbinsdale police seek public's help in searching for boy, 11

Robbinsdale police seek public's help in searching for boy, 11

Robbinsdale police are asking for the public’s help in searching for a missing 11-year-old boy who threatened to run away from home on Monday evening.…
Emergency medical personnel gather at the scene of a hit-and-run accident Saturday, Nov. 3, 2018, in Lake Hallie, Wis., that killed three girls and an

3 Girl Scouts among 4 killed in western Wis. hit-and-run crash

A 21-year-old driver is in custody after allegedly fleeing the scene along a county road where the girls had been picking up litter.
Templegoers embraced at Friday’s Shabbat service at Shir Tikvah in Minneapolis.

On a solemn Shabbat, Mpls. synagogue and love overflow

The confluence at Shir Tikvah of Jewish congregants and interfaith allies — one echoed nationwide — came nearly a week after the massacre in Pittsburgh by a gunman shouting anti-Semitic slurs.
Five people were shot, with one critically hurt, on Thursday afternoon in north Minneapolis.

5 hospitalized after being shot in north Minneapolis

One of the victims is in critical condition, police say.
St. Thomas President Julie Sullivan has released a lengthy “Action Plan to Combat Racism.”

University of St. Thomas removes 'It's OK to be white' poster

The sign, which was similar to others posted at other colleges, appeared a day after a campuswide forum on bias.

Authorities find body in Kandiyohi County field

Kandiyohi County officials are investigating after a body was found in a central Minnesota field Wednesday afternoon.
Read our comment standards welcomes and encourages readers to comment and engage in substantive, mutually respectful exchanges over news topics. Commenters must follow our Terms of Use.

  1. Keep it civil and stay on topic.
  2. No profanity, vulgarity, racial slurs or personal attacks.
  3. Comments with web links are not permitted.
  4. Comments that violate the above will be removed. Repeat violators may lose their commenting privileges on

Comments will be reviewed before being published.

More from Star Tribune