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As sheriff's squad cars sat parked outside the light blue, split-level house Tuesday, neighbors drove by slowly or peered out windows, wondering what went wrong.
Hartog said authorities had never been called to the house, which sits at the corner of a tree-lined intersection on the far west end of the farming community of 800 residents, which is about two hours west of the Twin Cities.
"There's no history of calls or trouble," he said.
Knott said the Amborns and their three children moved into the neighborhood earlier this year after previously living in nearby Renville.
She said she and her husband, Don, would occasionally talk with the kids when they were out in their back yard playing with their dogs or cats. And last spring, "we got some rhubarb from them over here," she said, pointing to a rhubarb patch.
But she said the family was extremely quiet and mostly kept to themselves, engaging in small talk if they were working outside or barbecuing.
"I didn't even know the kids' names," she said.
Knott said if there was trouble, she was not aware of it. "I never heard the mother or dad scold them," she said. "It's beyond me what happened."
Other neighbors say the family was almost too quiet.
"Almost reclusive," said Tony Thissen, who lives down the block. "I didn't even know [Keith Amborn] had a son, to be honest with you."
Victoria Tews, who lives directly across the street, said her fiancé once helped Keith Amborn's oldest daughter look for a missing cat. When they found it, Keith Amborn "took it and said, 'Thank you.' And that was it," she said.
"It's really sad to look back," she added. "We could count on one hand the times we saw those children outside. And every one of those times, they had the dad with them. They never left the yard. There were no bikes.
"This is a beautiful small town," she continued. "... Everybody knows everything. Kids are always around. But those kids were never outside. ... You never heard yelling coming from the house, but you never saw them.
"I thought it was more because they were new to the area. Give them some time. But in retrospect, I wish I had said something. I didn't even know their names. That's how horrible I feel."
Knott said she thought Keith Amborn was working at a sugar beet plant in Renville, but Hartog said Amborn was not employed at the time of his death.
"I can't figure it out," Knott said, shaking her head. "It boggles my mind."
Richard Meryhew 612-673-4425
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