Staff Directory 10645991

Mary Lynn Smith

Reporter | Metro
Phone: 612-673-4788
Location: Minneapolis
Other languages: None

Mary Lynn Smith is a general assignment reporter for the Star Tribune. She previously covered St. Paul City Hall and Ramsey County. Before that, she worked in Duluth where she covered local and state government and business. She frequently has written about the outdoors.


After graduating with a master's degree in public affairs reporting, the Chicago native moved to Minnesota and fell in love with the outdoors despite being a Girl Scout dropout. Smith became an avid long-distance runner and cross-country skier, keeping her fit so she could backpack in the mountains and paddle the BWCA and Quetico wilderness areas with her husband and three children. Now that her daughters are adults, she gives them the heavier packs.
Recent content from Mary Lynn Smith
Jake Patterson walked into court for his sentencing in the murder of James and Denise Closs at the Barron County Justice Center in Barron, Wis., on Fr

Jake Patterson sentenced to life without possibility of parole

"You are the embodiment of evil," Barron County District Judge James Babler told the kidnapper of Jayme Closs and the murderer of her parents. Closs' statement called Patterson "a coward."
Dante S. Tini, a U.S. sailor from the Iron Range, was killed at Pearl Harbor during the Japanese attack on Dec. 7, 1941.

Decades after Pearl Harbor, a Minnesota sailor's remains are coming home

Minnesota serviceman's remains ID'd, returned to family on the Iron Range.
Kidnapping victim Jayme Closs, second from left, appears with her family and supporters to receive a "hometown hero" award from the Wisconsin Assembly

Jayme Closs stays quiet as Wis. lawmakers award her 'Hometown Hero' award

Jayme's aunt Jen Smith spoke on the teen's behalf, thanking the Assembly for the tribute.

Skeletal remains found in Boundary Waters are human

The remains were found in an area where a New Mexico man had planned to camp through the winter.
St. Paul College President Rassoul Dastmozd

St. Paul College president abruptly announces he's leaving

His abrupt announcement came after faculty protests over his leadership style.
Monday, July 30, 2018 was dedication day for the new Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig school in Bena, Minnesota. Here, former U.S. Sen. Al Franken recounted how he o

Donors flock to Franken's Leech Lake library campaign

The former senator thanked his Facebook followers for providing books and money for the reservation school's library.
The St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office received a call in October about a vehicle parked at the trailhead to the Sioux Hustler Trail, which loops aro

Scattered remains, possibly human, found in the BWCA

Authorities found them in an area where a New Mexico man had planned to camp for the winter.
Members of the Jacobs family at the PACER Center's annual benefit in 2005. Alexandra and Irwin Jacobs, at right, were Patron Party co-chairs.

Irwin Jacobs shot his wife, then himself, officials confirm

The Hennepin County medical examiner listed the cause of death for both of them as "multiple gunshot wounds," and ruled Alexandra Jacobs' death a homicide and Irwin Jacobs' death a suicide.
Irwin Jacobs' estate in Orono.

Irwin Jacobs, wife found dead in what close friend calls murder-suicide

While Irwin Jacobs was widely known for his business dealings, Alexandra avoided the limelight that her husband often relished.
Fans reacted on Nicollet Mall at the end of Monday night's championship game in Minneapolis. Virginia won 85-77 in overtime over Texas Tech.

Final Four gives the Twin Cities one more shining moment

As the Twin Cities area wrapped up host duties for the men's basketball tournament, it proved once again that it can host a national megaevent.
Trout fishing in southeast Minnesota is partly dependent on fish raised at the DNR’s Lanesboro hatchery. Trout are known to gather beneath the Lanes

State-owned Lanesboro hatchery getting a $5 million remake

A $5 million project will replace a DNR building that's riddled with problems.
Fargo Mayor Tim Mahoney, left, and City Administrator Bruce Grubb pose next to a sandbag tote board in Fargo on March 29. The city aimed to make 100,0

Fargo poised to avoid 'really bad' flooding as fight moves north

"What people are seeing now is the power of the river," said Fargo Mayor Tim Mahoney.
Dr. Jon Pryor, who abruptly left his job as CEO of Hennepin Healthcare, called the severance package on the low end of what is typical for a CEO at a

Hennepin Healthcare pays out nearly $1M to former CEO

Hospital officials say the severance package is typical for such jobs.
Jake Patterson left the courtroom after he pleaded guilty Wednesday during a hearing in Barron, Wis.

'Bye, Jayme': Closs kidnapper pleads guilty at dramatic hearing

The plea deal stipulates that Jake Patterson will not be charged with any offenses in Douglas County, where he held Jayme. The agreement means she won't have to testify at any trial.

Body of 92-year-old southern Minnesota man is recovered from drainage ditch

Marvin Borkenhagen likely was clearing debris from a culvert before he was swept away.
Lagoon Avenue in Uptown Friday afternoon. Minneapolis and St. Paul both have cleanup days scheduled in April.

As Minnesota's snow melts, the garbage emerges

Minnesotans prepare to collect layers of litter that piled up over the winter.
Flood preparations in 2010 in the Fargo-Moorhead area included dike building and sandbagging.

After decades of spending, Minn. river cities feel ready for rising spring waters

For years, officials have invested millions of dollars, which should make this spring less daunting than the 1997 and 2009 flooding.
Working from memory and armed with shovels and picks, Minneapolis park keepers Jennifer Dennis and Ryan Susag have been working to clear drains packed

Rain, snowmelt get Minnesota scrambling to fight flooding

A steady, two-day rain expected to drench the knee-deep snowpack across much of Minnesota is raising flood concerns and sending crews to work to find a place for all that water.
The cattle barn at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds collapsed Tuesday night.

Roofs collapse at Shakopee motel, barn at State Fairgrounds

No initial reports of any injuries as rain fell on the already wet and heavy snow.
As temperatures get out of the single digits, there's warning that flooding is a possibility this spring. Carver is on the banks of the Minnesota Rive

Chance of major flooding across state rises with anticipated snow

A spike in temperature and rapid melt could create even more trouble in Minnesota in coming weeks.
Former priest Thomas Adamson, who was accused of molesting boys, leaves “a legacy of pain and sorrow,” attorney Jeff Anderson said.

Former priest at the heart of Catholic Church sex scandal in Minnesota dies

Removed from ministry in 1985 and the priesthood in 2009, Thomas Adamson lived out his final days in Rochester. He died last week at age 85.
John Clark Donahue, shown in 2002. Donahue, who co-founded Minneapolis’ Children’s Theatre Company and became a central figure in a 1980s sex abus

John Clark Donahue, central figure in Children's Theatre scandal, dies at 80

Children's Theatre founder was jailed for sexually abusing boys.

76-year-old woman assaulted in her rural Mankato home dies

Authorities, however, note that the public is not in danger because the assault appears to be an isolated case.
Forecasters hope we won’t go from ice fishing to sandbagging, especially in low areas like the St. Croix shoreline in Stillwater.

As Minnesota's snow piles up, flood worries are rising, too

A slow, steady melt is what's needed to keep spring deluge at bay. Right now, all that can be done is wait and see.
Jeanne Ann "Jeanie" Childs was stabbed to death in her Minneapolis apartment in June 1993.

Should police turn to genealogy sites to catch a long-sought killer?

Use of genealogy sites can open doors on cold cases, but at what cost?

Big Lake couple found dead in their home are identified

Investigators said there was no sign of trauma or violence and don't suspect foul play.
A photo of Jayme Closs posted to Facebook by her aunt Jennifer Smith.

Jayme Closs finds comfort in the letters and gifts from strangers

The Barron, Wis., teen and her family posted a note of thanks on Facebook.
A snowy street scene along 5th Avenue near downtown Minneapolis on Wednesday.

But wait, there's more: 3-6 inches of snow expected in Twin Cities

A steady, and sometimes heavy snowfall, will continue through most of Thursday before tapering by the evening, Up to 12 inches is forecast for north central and northwestern Minnesota.
Jay Mitchell, hospitalized in the burn unit at HCMC and awaiting amputation surgery after suffering from frostbite, was reunited Tuesday with his dog,

Reunited with dog, frostbite victim says: 'This is who I gave up my feet for'

Jay Mitchell says about his reunion with his best friend, Hero: "[He's] all I have in the world right now."
Tom Goeltz, whose daughter Megan was killed by a distracted driver, waited with others to testify at the Legislature.

Fight against distracted driving in Minn. focuses on phone use

As Legislature weighs heftier penalties, advocates focus on cellphone use.
Jay Mitchell suffered frostbite after several cold nights in his truck.

'It was pure survival': One man fights despair, frostbite in the polar vortex

Jay Mitchell thought he would die in the relentless, brutal cold. Then he got help and treatment. But there's still a chance doctors might have to amputate one or both feet.
Matt and Kim kept warm on a heated stage as they played a free outdoor concert Friday, days after the worst of the polar vortex.

Get ready for weather whiplash as temps could approach 40 this weekend

Temperatures landed into positive territory only early Friday after a 78-hour stretch of sub-zero cold in the Twin Cities area.
Jay Mitchell suffered frostbite after several cold nights in his truck.

Strangers rally to help a homeless man and his dog

Jay Mitchell was stunned by the generosity of those contributing to a GoFundMe page set up to help him during his recovery from frostbite.
Rascher Plumbing and Heating plumber Jason LaBelle stayed busy fixing frozen and burst pipes Thursday after three days of extreme cold.

Warm-up begins in Minn., bringing relief and home hassles

Temperatures were rising Thursday inside and out, bringing a return to routines. But the deep freeze left some pain, especially frozen plumbing.
Katy Nordhagen walked carrying her 3-year-old dog Peppers after taking him out for a bathroom break Wednesday in Northeast Minneapolis.

Utility asks customers to turn down thermostats in deep freeze

All Xcel Energy natural gas customers are urged to lower thermostats to 63 because of "significant strain" on the utility's natural gas system. Minneapolis, St. Paul and Anoka-Hennepin schools will be closed Thursday.
A pedestrian crossed 2nd Avenue at 6th Street in downtown Minneapolis on Tuesday night during what normally would be the evening rush hour.

Wednesday mail delivery canceled

It was the latest in the long list of closings due to the extreme cold. The temperature is expected to dive to minus-29 in the Twin Cities by Wednesday morning for the first time since 1996.
Thanks to a push from rural Minnesota drivers, the 55-mile-per-hour speed limit on most two-lane state highways is being bumped up to 60 mph.

Cheers, criticism greet move to raise speed on rural highways

While national researchers worry about higher speeds, state studies have found something different.
Former University of Minnesota President Nils Hasselmo participated in a 2015 panel discussion at Northrop Auditorium in Minneapolis.

Former University of Minnesota President Nils Hasselmo dies at 87

He is credited with improving graduation rates, restoring stability, and raising the school's profile as an undergraduate teaching institution.
Barron Area School District Administrator Diane Tremblay said administrators will meet with Department of Justice officials on Thursday to work on a p

After Jayme Closs returns, Wisconsin town wonders how to feel safe

The randomness of a meticulously planned crime has shaken residents of Barron, Wis.
Facing charges: Jake Patterson appeared with one of his attorneys via video. Charging documents sat on the table.

Charges: Suspect says he killed Jayme's parents, abducted her

The 13-year-old Wisconsin girl told authorities that the suspect first killed her father at the front door of their house, and then broke down the door to the bathroom where she and her mother were hiding.
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.
A 46-year-old man was arrested during a prostitution sting in St. Peter, Minn., in 2017.

Plan explores broadening sex trafficking law to cover victims of all ages

The state's current Safe Harbor law focuses primarily on young victims.
A Dakota County jury found the Independent Women’s Football League and the Minnesota Vixen discriminated against Christina Ginther, right, a transge

Jury's award to transgender woman after rejection by football team is a Minnesota first

Player awarded $20,000 in pioneering business discrimination case.

Man dies of injuries suffered when he was hit by car in Columbia Heights

Erik R. Johnstone, 48, of Fridley, was hit after he stepped off a median at University and 40th avenues NE.

3 charged in Eden Prairie robbery linked to man's death

A 63-year-old man died of cardiac arrest in connection with a home invasion.
PolyMet Mine in Hoyt Lakes, Minn.

Minnesota's first copper-nickel mine clears final major hurdle with state

Federal officials opened a path for a second mine just outside the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.
Wolf researcher Austin Homkes stood next to the largest jack pine in the United States, which is in Voyageurs National Park along the Namakan Lake sho

Northern Minnesota jack pine is the largest in the United States

The tree along the Namakan Lake shoreline in Voyageurs National Park makes Minnesota the home to four of the 783 national champions and co-champions.
A 2018 DFL precinct caucus meeting in Eden Prairie in February.

Minnesota officials thinking about mail-only ballots for 2020 presidential primary

Backers of the mail-only ballot say it will make it easier to administer the election.
Jerry Hennessey

Fugitive elevator manager from Ashby, Minn., turns himself in

Jerry Hennessey, who now faces a mail fraud count in federal court, told a friend he was "in big trouble" before fleeing to Iowa.
Boynton Health at the University of Minnesota conducts a survey every three years to help the student health service address key concerns affecting st

Rising number of University of Minnesota students report mental health concerns

That makes it the top health issue on campus, according to a student survey released this week.
The Closs family home in Barron, Wis.

A month after Closs vanished, feeling in hometown 'very dark'

Town and family struggle while investigators keep hope alive: "The motive isn't there. The reason isn't there. I wish, wish, wish every night before I go to bed that we find a clue."
Wild Rumpus Bookstore owner Tom Braun in the Linden Hills landmark in 2010.

Tom Braun, who co-founded whimsical Wild Rumpus bookstore in Minneapolis, dies at 74

Creative and talented, Braun always had a thousand ideas, those who knew him said.

Fergus Falls man charged with second-degree murder in shooting at mother's home

The 29-year-old man is in jail after allegedly shooting a man in his mother's home in Audubon, Minn.

Becker County man jailed in Audubon death

Authorities say there is no threat to the public.
Alatus released this rendering of the Rice Creek Commons business area as it began to redevelop the former Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant site in A

Ramsey County, Arden Hills at odds over ammo plant project

County negotiators called for a pause in hopes of returning to negotiations later.
Terrence "Terry" Brisk

Shooting death of Little Falls deer hunter remains a mystery

The family of Terry Brisk is desperate for answers in his 2016 death.
Tara Reitan, left, and Bridget Reiter hugged before going into the funeral for Haylee Hickle today in Chippewa Falls, Wis. Reitan had babysat for Hayl

'Your world has been stolen': Girl Scouts, mother laid to rest

The four victims of last weekend's horrific hit-and-run crash along a highway in northwestern Wisconsin will be laid to rest over the next two days.
Carleton College in Northfield, Minn.

Carleton College gets major boost from single $50 million donation

The alumni donation gets college's $400 million fundraising drive off to a strong start.
Andrew Goette, flanked by wife Ashley, cradled their 4-day-old son Lennon Andrew.

Minnesota man beats death, then gets to hold his newborn son

When Ashley Goette stood over her husband Andrew's lifeless body and pushed down on his chest, he was 28 -- and she was 39 weeks pregnant.
Jayme Closs, 13, has been missing since her parents were found dead in their Barron, Wisconsin, home.

911 call log: Officers found door kicked in, parents' bodies, no Jayme

Officials renew efforts in search for Wis. teen whose parents were murdered.
People search along Highway 8 near Barron, Wisconsin, for signs of Jayme Closs, the 13-year-old girl who has been missing since early Monday, after he

Dozens of volunteers help in search for missing Wis. teen

Despite the turnout of about 100 volunteers, Thursday's ground search ended in frustration.
Brainerd’s historic water tower, seen in 1952, has been called Paul Bunyan’s flashlight. It was decommissioned in 1958.

The push to save Brainerd's landmark water tower begins

The clock is ticking on whether Brainerd’s landmark water tower can be saved. A citizen committee has about two years to cobble together enough donations…

Trying to flee the law in St. Paul, man jumps from eighth-floor window

The 27-year-old Bloomington man survived the fall but is now headed to jail.

Minnesota National Guard helps with hurricane relief efforts in Florida

Six soldiers and a helicopter will head to Florida as it recovers from the Category 4 hurricane.

Minnesota Red Cross aids hurricane relief efforts

The Red Cross also said it's in need of blood donations from around the nation.

Physical therapist can't turn back time, but helps runners slow it down

As people age, they lose lean muscle mass, flexibility and cardiovascular ability.
Mick Stephens made his way around Lake of the Isles during a morning run. Stephens, a longtime marathoner, had both knees replaced and is back on the

Aging yet active, baby boomers test the limits of artificial joints

For many in a generation hooked on running and recreational sports, artificial joints are a godsend.
'Daddy! I found a sword!' Minnesota girl pulls 1,500-year-old pre-Viking era artifact from Swedish lake

'Daddy! I found a sword!' Minnesota girl pulls 1,500-year-old pre-Viking era artifact from Swedish lake

Saga Vanecek found the sword after stepping on what she thought was a stick.
Diane Page, shown in 2017, held a White House brick made by slaves that is part of her and her husband Alan Page's collection of African American art,

Philanthropist Diane Sims Page, wife of Alan Page, dies at 74

She made a name in her own right helping "execute a lot of Alan's wishes and dreams."
Former Scott County Commissioner Joe Wagner

Minnesota funeral home cited for storing applesauce in embalming room

Mortuary lost appeal after being cited for a dozen violations.
FILE - In this June 9, 2014 file photo is a sculpture portraying a wounded soldier being helped on the grounds of the Minneapolis VA Hospital.

Minneapolis VA cited for failures in connection with vet's suicide

Officials are seeking ways to minimize gaps in care.

Deputy shot with arrow; suspect in custody after Sauk Centre standoff

The deputy, who was shot in the arm, suffered noncritical injuries.
A veterinarian at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Minnesota held a Little Brown Myotis bat.

Minnesota health officials seek woman who dropped off rabid bats

Health officials need more information about where dead bats were found.
Eric Fryman, left, Annaliese, 5 (in Eric's arms) Jansen,3, held by Cari Mews, Kyra 9, in front. Fryman and the children are dead after their kayak cap

Dad, 3 children likely suffered hypothermia when they died in Lake Superior

Sheriff issues preliminary findings; additional test results awaited.
Even though the weather was cloudy and muggy, a decent crowd gathered for the last day of the Minnesota State Fair on Monday, Sept. 3, 3018. The fair

Fair breaks attendance record, surpasses 2M for first time

Over the 12 days of the Minnesota State Fair, 2,046,533 fairgoers streamed through the gates.
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