The State Theater in downtown Windom, Minn., is once again sporting its classic blue and red marquee.
Soon, that marquee will glow: Volunteers are holding a "relighting ceremony" at 6:45 p.m. Friday.
Just a few months ago, the marquee was sitting in 19 pieces, dusty and dented, on the floor of a construction shop in the southwestern Minnesota town. I wrote an article in September about small cities' efforts to save their Main Street movie theaters, including the State. Read more here.
Since then, the marquee has been welded, painted and put back up. Buckwheat Johnson, president of Windom Theater Inc., passed along this photographic evidence.
Two teens accused of killing a 79-year-old Willmar woman have been indicted on first-degree, premeditated murder charges.
Brok Junkermeier, 19, and Robert Warwick, 17, each face two counts of first-degree murder in the July death of Warwick’s grandmother, Lila Warwick. If convicted, the pair could face life in prison, without parole, according to indictments filed Wednesday in Kandiyohi County.
The charges come after a grand jury met for several days to review evidence. In Minnesota, a premeditated murder case cannot be prosecuted unless a grand jury has convened and issued a first-degree murder indictment.
“It’s something that we expected, that we were preparing for,” said Kent Marshall, public defender for Junkermeier. “The charges are as bad as they get.”
Prosecutors allege that Robert Warwick hatched the plan that led to Junkermeier’s attack on the elderly woman in her home. Early one morning in late July, Junkermeier allegedly slashed Lila Warwick’s hand with a swordlike knife and forced her to write him a check for $1,500 before choking and stabbing her to death, according to second-degree murder charges filed in August.
A third teen charged in the case, Devon Jenkins, was not included in this week’s indictments. Jenkins, 16, is accused in a juvenile petition of driving Junkermeier to the house and acting as the lookout.
An investigation into what caused a Friday fire that destroyed several buildings in Winona's downtown is centering, so far, on faulty electrics.
Winona Fire Chief Curt Bittle said Tuesday that investigators for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) did some “preliminary work” over the weekend. Based on that, “they’re leaning at a possible electrical cause.”
But an official cause won't be determined until all five agencies do a thorough investigation on Sept. 25. (That’s the soonest date the many agencies involved could all make work, Bittle said.)
The fire started in the Winona Islamic Center, an L-shaped building that includes a mosque. "I think we’ve narrowed [the fire's origin] down to the rear part of the building," Bittle said.
Since Friday's fire, members of the Islamic center have been worshipping in churches that have offered up their space.
The Winona Daily News reports that the center's leaders plan to rebuild. Mohamed Elhindi, president of the center’s board, told the paper that “absolutely we will be rebuilding, and Winona will have an Islamic Center."
The mother of Kara Monson, who died in a Granite Falls, Minn., shooting last week, said her family “cannot rest” until a suspect in the case is caught.
In a written statement released Monday afternoon, Patrice Monson asked for the public’s help in looking for her daughter’s ex-boyfriend, Andrew J. Dikken, 28, of Granite Falls, for whom authorities are searching.
Dikken “remains at-large,” the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension said Monday afternoon.
Kara Monson, 26, was found shot to death Sept. 2 in her home. On Sunday, her boyfriend Christopher Panitzke, of Redwood Falls, Minn., also died of gunshot wounds he suffered in the incident.
Dikken’s pickup truck was found two days after the shooting in a remote area about 20 miles southeast of Granite Falls.
In her first public comments since the shooting, Patrice Monson called Kara “a very loving person who touched many people’s lives.
“It would be her wish that justice would be served for her and Chris, so that everyone’s families can grieve in peace,” she said. “We need to be able to put our lives back together without living in constant fear.”
Kara Monson’s 5-year-old daughter “can’t really have the support of her family because we are all afraid, and we are trying to protect her,” the statement continues. “We don’t want to be afraid for the rest of our lives.”
Dikken should not be approached, the BCA said, because he “may be armed and dangerous."
Panitzke died Sunday afternoon after his condition deteriorated, according to an entry on his CaringBridge page. He had been airlifted last week to Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis.
The Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office said Monday that he died of “homicide as a result of complications associated with multiple gunshot wounds,” according to the BCA.
Kara Monson’s funeral services are set for 11 a.m. Tuesday at Granite Falls Lutheran Church.
(Pictured: Andrew J. Dikken)