Bellrichard pleads guilty in last 2 cases

Published 1:48 pm Monday, April 7, 2014

The latest saga of Loren Bellrichard is nearing an end.



The well-known 67-year-old Austin man pleaded guilty Thursday in separate cases to escaping from Mower County jail last year as well as making terroristic threats to county prosecuting attorneys and an Austin police officer.

A jury found Bellrichard guilty of three counts of felony stalking and a felony charge for violating a restraining order in January, the third of three cases against him stemming from his arrest last fall.

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Bellrichard was charged in late September 2013 after he gave the victim a bicycle, softball bat, glove and softballs as gifts. He had previously sent the 16-year-old girl several letters, too. According to the victim’s father, who testified in January, the letters became increasingly uncomfortable, with references of love, sex and marriage.

After his September arrest, he was later released after paying bail; however, he violated the terms of his release when he contacted the victim and went back to the Mower County jail in October.

He convinced county officials to let him out on a two-day furlough to attend his mother’s funeral in early November, yet he didn’t show up at his appointed time on Nov. 2. He was later found in Alma, Wis., about 95 miles from Austin, on Nov. 6.

Mower County Sheriff Terese Amazi said at the time that Bellrichard apparently received a ride from someone to Winona, where he crossed the border into Wisconsin.

Just a few weeks after he was recaptured, Bellrichard was charged with threatening to set fire to the homes of two Mower County prosecuting attorneys and an Austin police officer.

According to a court complaint, a Mower County attorney received a letter postmarked from St. Paul that contained death threats on Nov. 4. The letter was allegedly signed, “Peace, Loren Bellrichard.” Bellrichard wrote that another person would burn down the victims’ houses if they did not drop the charges; and attached to the back of the envelope was an Associated Press article about a St. Paul man accused of burning down a home and fleeing from Minnesota.

According to the court complaint, one part of the letter states: “Hang onto your hats. I think I know how to appease this guy before he puts a ‘hit’ on you — all in Austin, dear friends.”

Bellrichard — a much-recognized face around Austin — was convicted in 1991 for threatening public officials. He sent more threatening letters to public officials while in prison, which added seven years to his sentence. He was also suspected of setting fire to the homes of two district judges in 1988 and 1989, but was acquitted of those charges.