Prosecutors have filed the first criminal charges against a man suspected of sexually assaulting multiple women in Minneapolis over eight years.
Jory D. Wiebrand, 34, of Ham Lake, was charged Monday in Hennepin County District Court in two home invasions in the Marcy-Holmes neighborhood in Minneapolis, allegedly sexually assaulting the women living there.
More charges are expected in coming days. Wiebrand is a suspect in a total of 10 sexual assaults, assaults and break-ins in the Marcy-Holmes neighborhood and in Anoka County, the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office said Monday.
Wiebrand has been in the Hennepin County jail since his arrest Friday. Prosecutors have requested bail of $2 million in one case and $1 million in the other.
In a statement, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman commended multiple agencies involved for “excellent police work.”
“Until last week, Mr. Wiebrand’s DNA was not on file with any police agency, so developing a fingerprint and getting a match from an earlier, unrelated arrest allowed police to identify him as a suspect and seek a search warrant to obtain his DNA,” Freeman said in the statement. “While we need to prove his guilt in court, if we are successful, we will seek an enhanced sentence so he will be unable to terrorize women for a long time.”
Wiebrand was charged with first-degree burglary and criminal predatory conduct in a burglary on June 2 last year, and first-degree criminal sexual assault and first-degree burglary with assault in another break-in two months later on Aug. 7.
No date for a court appearance has been set.
According to the complaints, Wiebrand’s victim on June 2 last year awoke to find an intruder with his hands around her mouth and neck. After a struggle, he fled with her wallet. Wiebrand allegedly broke in by standing on a garbage can and breaking a window.
Wiebrand’s fingerprints were found on the glass, a key piece of evidence in linking the cases.
In August, Wiebrand allegedly crawled through a window into another home 1 ½ blocks away from the other, grabbing a woman after she got out of the shower in the early morning. He allegedly assaulted her on her bed, telling her “I’m your worst nightmare.”
He sprayed pepper spray in her face as they fought. Then she escaped, running out of the apartment naked and screaming; a neighbor helped her. DNA matching Wiebrand’s was recovered from a sexual assault exam kit.
The arrest and charges bring some relief to the U community, which has been on alert over the attacks. Some of the victims were students at the university, police said Sunday.
One, Brooke Morath, was featured in the Star Tribune’s 2018 “Denied Justice” series. Police have not publicly confirmed they suspect Wiebrand attacked Morath in 2015, but Morath told the Star Tribune that detectives called her Friday and informed her they had arrested him in her case and linked him through preliminary DNA testing.
“We’re both relieved and have a lot of gratitude toward law enforcement for not giving up on the reports,” said Katie Eichele, director of the Aurora Center for Advocacy and Education at the U.
Eichele said advocates were aware of commonalities in the attacks: The assaults typically occurred at night in neighborhoods near the U and involved a stranger creeping up on the victim — sometimes trying to get the woman into a vehicle.
“I think the hard part was we didn’t know there was a connection necessarily,” Eichele said.
Sexual assaults by strangers are rare. Most rapes are committed by acquaintances, and the majority are never reported to law enforcement, research has shown. It’s common, however, for rapists to have multiple victims.
There was little activity Sunday at the address listed for Wiebrand, a brown ranch-style house on a wooded dead-end road in Ham Lake. A sign in the front window said “Warning: Nothing here is worth dying for.”
Staff writer Mara Klecker contributed to this report.