'21-year-old kid who scares us all'

  • Article by: JIM ANDERSON , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 7, 2011 - 9:15 PM

Inspired by TV's "Dexter," Andrew Busskohl plotted serial murders. He has been committed.

Andrew Busskohl, who as a boy in Woodbury received a heart transplant that saved his life, has been ordered committed to confined psychiatric care after stalking a Woodbury man and plotting other murders. Court papers said he drew some of his inspiration from "Dexter," the TV series about a vigilante serial killer, and had aspirations of becoming an infamous murderer like Jack the Ripper.

Like the Showtime series character, Busskohl, 21, first targeted people he perceived had committed crimes and avoided punishment, documents say. After failing to find such a victim, he chose names from a phone book.

After hearing three days of testimony this year from psychologists, probation officers, social workers and others, Washington County District Judge Gregory Galler ruled last week that Busskohl is mentally ill and dangerous and needs care in a secure setting.

Busskohl has been held at the Minnesota Security Hospital in St. Peter. After 60 days, an evaluation by hospital staff will rule on whether he is still dangerous. A subsequent court hearing will decide if he should remain confined.

"We're definitely pleased that the court granted the petition and that our interests, at least in the short-term, have been addressed," said assistant county attorney James Zuleger. The county's goals were to protect public safety and get him medical help.

"This is a 21-year-old kid who scares us all," said Peter Orput, Washington County attorney.

Busskohl was convicted in June 2009 on charges stemming from a bizarre plot the previous summer in which he picked a neighbor, stalked him and planned to stab him to death before cutting out his heart or eyelids. The charge of attempted first-degree murder was ultimately dismissed, but Busskohl was sentenced to three months in jail and put on four years' probation for aggravated harassment and property damage.

He also was ordered to undergo further psychological counseling and examination to determine whether he might attempt such a crime again. Neighbors were afraid that he might, according to a victim statement at the time.

Woodbury police found a "murder kit" in Busskohl's car trunk containing a swimming cap, latex gloves, knives, a scalpel and other items during their initial investigation.

Busskohl's desire to kill, "appears to have been, in part, prompted by the show 'Dexter,'" documents say. The series depicts a police forensic investigator who is secretly a serial killer who targets only criminals.

But Busskohl was unable to find anyone in Woodbury who fit that criteria, so he shifted targets. That, experts testified, signaled that he was not after vigilante justice, but only had a desire to kill.

Last May, he told his mother that he was having homicidal thoughts. He had identified a Woodbury couple, again picked from the phone book, and planned to slit their throats. As in the first case, he had started to assemble items for the crime, including a knife.

While he was on probation in the earlier plot, the county began commitment proceedings. Busskohl had violated parole conditions four times -- including possessing knives and using drugs -- and it became apparent he needed help, officials said.

Jim Anderson • 651-735-0999

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