Two men have been arrested in connection with the death of 90-year-old Earl Olander, who was found bound and beaten in his ransacked San Francisco Township farmhouse on April 11, the Carver County Sheriff’s Department said Tuesday.
Sheriff Jim Olson said in a news release that a tip from a citizen led to the arrests of the two, who are being held in the Carver County jail. They are likely to be charged Wednesday, he said. Olson plans a 4 p.m. news conference Wednesday to talk about the case.
“I’m really glad that they got whoever did this to my uncle,” said Olander’s niece, Mary Rothfusz. She said she didn’t know who the men were or any details.
Olander, a lifelong bachelor, lived in a home that had been in his family for many decades on 160 acres about halfway between Chaska and Belle Plaine. He was close friends with many of his neighbors, who have described him as independent and generous.
Olander was profiled in 1997 by NBC-TV reporter Andrea Mitchell in a piece titled, “Ever Younger: Longevity Secrets of Carver, Minnesota.” He was shown at age 73, carrying hay and overlooking his herd of cattle.
His death rattled many of his rural neighbors, who said he had no enemies that anyone knew of. Authorities had said they suspected more than one person was involved in his death. A $7,500 reward had been offered for information leading to an arrest in the case.
Gerald Scott, 86, who found Olander’s body, was relieved to learn of the arrests. Scott and Olander had been friends their entire lives — “It was like having a brother die,” he said earlier. “It hurt that much.”
He and others hope the arrests make people feel safer and bring closure to those who knew Olander.
“I loved him,” longtime neighbor Maria Boecker said Tuesday night. Olander was like a grandfather to her four children. “It’s devastating. Not a day doesn’t go by when I don’t think about it. I walk by his house every day and planted flowers there today.”
And now in a community where doors were left unlocked, times have changed.
“We don’t trust anybody,” Boecker said. “We have to lock up and live a different lifestyle. … We’re just waiting for normal to come back and I don’t know if it ever will.”