Body found in rural Steele Co.; Case being investigated as homicide

Published 9:55 am Tuesday, June 28, 2016

By Jeffrey Jackson

Owatonna People’s Press

OWATONNA — Law enforcement officials from Steele County and beyond are investigating the death of a young, as of yet unidentified man whose body was found early Sunday morning in rural northeast Steele County.

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The death is being considered a possible homicide, said Steele County Attorney Dan McIntosh, though he quickly added that the death investigation is still in the early stages.

“An autopsy is going on this morning,” McIntosh said Monday morning, adding that investigators hope a positive identification will be forthcoming.

The body is being taken to the Southern Minnesota Regional Medical Examiner’s Office in Rochester for the autopsy and formal identification.

“We hope an ID will come through the medical examiner’s office as well as a preliminary cause of death,” he said.

All he could say for certain Monday morning was that the body was that of a young male, probably in his early to mid-20s.

“It’s impossible to know how long his body had been there,” McIntosh said.

Law enforcement was first alerted to the body shortly after 1 a.m. Sunday when a 911 call came into dispatch at the Law Enforcement Center in Owatonna, said Steele County Sheriff Lon Thiele, whose office is taking the lead in the investigation.

The people who made the call were identified and fully questioned, said McIntosh, who described them as “cooperative.” He declined to say what they said, citing the ongoing investigation.

Though he declined to identify the exact scene where the body was discovered, he did say that it was the side of a gravel road in a sparsely populated section of the county.

“We don’t know how he got out there,” McIntosh said, adding that there was “not a lot of physical evidence” to aid in the investigation.

Multiple agencies are involved in the investigation, including the Steele County Sheriff’s Office, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, the Owatonna Police Department and the Faribault Police Department, with the Minnesota State Patrol assisting at the scene.