Woodbury police are investigating a death at the home of a man on trial for charges of sexually assaulting children on a school bus.
Attorney Christopher Keyser said police were called to the home of his client, Harvey T. Kneifl, after Kneifl failed to show up Thursday morning for his trial on 10 felony counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct.
Authorities told Keyser that Kneifl's wife, Julie Kneifl, was found dead, and that Kneifl, 72, was wounded, Keyser said.
"It was shocking," Keyser said. "It's certainly not something that you wish for anyone."
Woodbury police said Kneifl suffered from "significant" apparent self-inflicted injuries, and was taken to a hospital for treatment. Police Cmdr. John Altman said in a news release late Thursday that he is expected to survive.
Police said a woman was found dead at the scene, Kneifl's apartment at the St. Therese senior living facility at 7555 Bailey Rd. Police did not release her identity or reveal the nature of the injuries she and Kneifl suffered.
"Detectives are investigating the circumstances surrounding her death," police said in a written statement. "Important to note: there is no threat to the community at large; this incident was not a random act."
The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension was on the scene assisting Woodbury police, but declined to reveal additional details.
The Washington County Attorney's Office charged Kneifl in 2017, alleging that he molested children while working as a school bus attendant.
"Kneifl is seen on video from inside the bus on two occasions, touching six children under age 13 on their genitals over their clothing," said a statement released by the county attorney at the time. "At least three of the children confirmed to law enforcement that which was readily visible on the school district's video of the bus interior."
According to Keyser, Kneifl's court trial began Monday. Kneifl, his wife and attorneys made a brief appearance in court Monday morning, and then evidence was submitted to the judge for review.
The case was being tried before a judge and not a jury.
Kneifl was due back in court at 9 a.m. Thursday so the prosecutor and Keyser could deliver closing arguments before the judge. Keyser said Kneifl typically arrived early for court hearings, but not Thursday.
"I started to become a little concerned when Mr. Kneifl didn't show up," he said. "The court deputy asked if I had noticed any changes recently to Mr. Kneifl, to which I said, 'No, I had not.' "
The attorneys and judge waited until 9 a.m. and then asked Woodbury police to do a welfare check on Kneifl.
Keyser had hoped the extreme cold was to blame. "It was very devastating to hear" otherwise, he said.
Keyser said he last spoke with Kneifl on Monday, and told him they were both due in court Thursday.
Woodbury police said officers conducting the welfare check didn't receive an answer at Kneifl's door, so staff at the facility entered the apartment.
"This case will take time" to investigate, Altman said. "In the coming days, the Washington County Attorney's Office will make charging decisions based on the findings of investigators."
Staff writer Rochelle Olson contributed to this report. email@example.com 612-270-4708