A young woman charged with stealing a sport utility vehicle and trespassing in Fridley has a unique bail requirement: Tell authorities her name.
Identified in court documents as Jane Doe, the woman was arrested Monday, accused of having broken into an empty house, changing the locks and putting up drapes. Once in jail, she said little and declined to say who she is.
Police took her fingerprints but couldn't get a set of high enough quality to send through a national data base. When they tried to take a mug shot, the woman ducked her head and put her hands in front of her face. Authorities on Friday released an unofficial photo of her in a holding cell.
Doe, estimated to be in her early 20s, sits in the Anoka County jail, after twice refusing a judge's order Wednesday to give her name.
Everybody involved in the case is trying to figure out the story behind this mystery woman.
"We don't know what she had done, and we don't have a lot of clues right now," Fridley police Lt. Mike Monsrud said.
Doe will be examined to see if she is competent to stand trial, although police and jail deputies said they didn't think she was suffering from mental distress or would harm herself.
"I have to explore every possibility. This is a very unusual situation that I haven't come across in my career," said Jennifer Pradt, Doe's public defender, who asked for the competency exam. "She has been communicating with me."
What Anoka County authorities know about Doe starts in Lake Geneva, Wis., where police said she inquired about a homeless shelter. Later, they said, she allegedly stole an SUV in town and used credit cards with fake identities to make purchases in Baraboo and Tomah, Wis.
Events in Fridley
The story shifted Monday night to an empty house on Rice Creek Way in Fridley. The home was being renovated and the owners had been on vacation for some time, Monsrud said.
When one of the owners tried to open the front door, he found that all the outside locks had been changed and that there was a light on. He called police, who found the SUV parked in the garage, according to court documents. Police searched the house and finally spotted Doe in a closet, holding a pair of scissors and a cellphone. She refused repeated orders by officers to put the scissors down until a police dog grabbed her arm, Monsrud said.
Doe was taken to a local hospital, where she needed several stitches but refused to give her name.
She had no identification and declined to talk, and police took her fingerprints. Deputies asked if she was afraid of somebody, said Cmdr. Paul Sommer of the Anoka County Sheriff's Office. She spoke perfect English but offered no explanation, he said.
"When she wouldn't cooperate for a mug shot, we weren't going to have deputies wrestle her and hold her still," he said.
Contacting no one
She was kept isolated from the other inmates because authorities wanted to keep an eye on her, but Sommer said there wasn't a concern she would hurt herself. She ate regular meals, but didn't try to contact anybody outside jail. When needs arose, she spoke to deputies, he said.
The woman was charged as Jane Doe. In her first court appearance Wednesday morning, she gave Anoka County District Judge Dyanna Street a name that turned out to be fake and a birth date that would have made her 15 years old. The judge ordered Doe back three hours later, giving her another chance to open up.
Street found Doe in contempt and sent her to jail for 60 days. The sentence will end if she gives her name, but Street also set bail at $100,000. Doe's next court appearance is scheduled for Aug. 8.
What normally is a simple case has become something Sommer said he has rarely seen in his 27-year law enforcement career.
"I've had a few men, only men, that wouldn't give their name claiming their sovereign citizenship doesn't recognize the U.S. government," he said. "But all of them eventually gave it up."
David Chanen • 612-673-4465