Feb. 4: Killings at home shake up Waseca

  • Article by: TOM FORD and JOY POWELL , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 6, 2007 - 3:57 PM

Two family members died, and a third was critically hurt. Police were questioning a man.

The news sweeping through normally placid Waseca on Saturday was even more chilling than the bitter winter wind blowing across the southern Minnesota prairie: Two members of a popular family had been killed and a third critically wounded by an intruder who entered their home before dawn.

Authorities responding to a 911 call at 3:23 a.m. found carpenter Tracy Kruger, 40, and his 13-year-old son, Alec, dead in the family's farmhouse 6 miles southwest of town.

Hilary Kruger, a 41-year-old wife and mother who works at an accounting firm, was wounded. She was flown to North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale, where she was listed in critical condition Saturday night.

"The shooting was just so random, it doesn't make any sense," said Elizabeth Cram of Waseca, who is acquainted with the family.

A younger son was spending the night at a friend's house at the time of the killings. A sheriff's official investigating the case later described the boy as in a state of utter shock.

By Saturday evening, investigators were questioning a man who was apparently a stranger to the Kruger family.

He was linked to a pickup truck found in a ditch outside the family's farmhouse on 320th Avenue. The Krugers' sport-utility vehicle was also in the ditch.

Authorities say they believe the man stole a truck from one of the Krugers' neighbors. It was found near a home about 10 to 15 miles away, in Byron Township in southern Waseca County, where the man was taken into custody for questioning about dawn Saturday.

Late Saturday night, no information was available on whether that man was arrested.

Dispatcher heard gunshots

Waseca County Attorney Paul Dressler said it's his understanding that Alec called 911 and that the family had been shot. Autopsies have yet to confirm that, he said.

According to Dressler and Chief Deputy Brad Milbrath of the Waseca County Sheriff's Office, Alec reported an intruder, a dispatcher heard gunshots and the line went dead. By the time officers reached the two-story white farmhouse surrounded by towering pines and fields of corn stubble, Tracy and Alec Kruger were dead.

The family is known for its involvement in civic affairs around Waseca, which is about 15 miles east of Mankato and about 65 miles south of the Twin Cities.

Tracy Kruger owned a construction company with his brother Tony and was widely known for his love of collecting and racing vintage snowmobiles.

Each year, Tracy Kruger and his family and friends organized a vintage snowmobile meet at Clear Lake on the city's edge.

Alec Kruger, a seventh-grade student at Waseca Junior High School who had many friends, loved to play football.

Before basketball practice began at Waseca Junior High on Saturday morning, some of his classmates gathered to share a hug and tears.

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