Man convicted in '83 killings says he's remorseful

  • Associated Press
  • September 28, 2013 - 4:55 PM

MARSHALL, Minn. — A man convicted along with his father of killing two bankers in 1983 on a southwestern Minnesota farm said he's remorseful for the two lives he took and the families he destroyed.

Steven Anderson, who changed his name from Steven Jenkins, was 18 when he when was convicted of shooting Rudy Blythe and Deems "Toby" Thulin.

Now 48 years old, Anderson is preparing for life outside prison after being put on a path toward parole by the Minnesota Commissioner of Corrections in March. Anderson is expected to be released in about two years.

Sunday marks the 30th anniversary of the deaths.

"I'm feeling very grateful for the opportunity to possibly return to society in a couple of years, but I can't forget the fact that I took two people's lives and destroyed two families," Anderson told the Marshall Independent ( ). "I have a debt that can never be repaid. But I do have a lot of remorse for the harm I caused."

The murders on the Jenkins' former 10-acre farm in Ruthton became a national symbol of the tension between debt-ridden farmers and rural lenders who struggled to survive a flood of delinquencies in the 1980s. James Jenkins lost the farm in foreclosure.

The farm was vacant when James Jenkins called the victims, pretending to be an interested buyer. The bankers went out to the farm, where they were shot and killed.

For 17 years, Anderson wouldn't admit he was the one who pulled the trigger.

For the first few years, he said, he felt justified because he still believed what his dad had told him, that Blythe was the cause of all of their troubles.

He confessed to the murders in 2000 in a television documentary.

Anderson said he finally realized his father was manipulating him.

"Then, I didn't want to think about it because I felt guilty," he said. "I murdered two men for the lies my dad told me. I had deprived four kids of their fathers and other people of their brothers, sons and husbands. And I had not just deeply affected the families, but also colleagues and entire communities."

His mother, Darlene Taveirne, said her son took the brunt of her husband's anger toward the bank after he got behind on mortgage payments.

"Jim tried to control everybody in his life," Taveirne said. "He was a control freak. And if he couldn't control you, like he couldn't control my life, then he just took it out on Steve. Steve just couldn't do anything right for him."

Taveirne said that her son desperately sought his father's approval, but he never got it.

"He was brainwashed since he was little," she said.

Taveirne said she will likely always carry the guilt of not being able to prevent the tragedy.

Since 2009, Tom Fabel, the lead prosecutor in the Jenkins case, and Anderson have developed a friendship.

Advocates for Anderson eventually reached out to Fabel, who led a successful campaign to get Anderson on the path to parole.

"The story of Steven Anderson, as far as I'm concerned, is an important one," Fabel said. "It's one of redemption and retribution. He's transformed his life, and I feel good about the opportunity that Steven is going to be given because he deserves it."

The Independent's attempts to contact relatives of the victims were unsuccessful.

© 2018 Star Tribune