Cops investigating hate mail sent to security hospital workers

Published 8:17 am Monday, August 6, 2018

By Catharine Richert

MPR News/90.1 FM

St. Peter police are investigating homophobic hate mail targeting two lesbian couples in the area and a letter using racist language to one other person. Four of the five work at the St. Peter security hospital.

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Jaime Mace said she and her wife Angie first received the homophobic letters at their home last summer. The angry rants included threats to hurt them and their child because they are a same-sex couple.

“They threatened to burn our house down, to kill us. To follow our daughter and kill her. They said none of our neighbors like us and we lower property values,” Mace said.

The couple has lived in St. Peter for years. Mace said the community has always been welcoming and they’d never experienced such hostility.

“It took me completely by surprise,” she said.

Police are investigating the letters, but have yet to identify a suspect. Meanwile, a second lesbian couple living in St. Peter received similarly threatening letters at their home in May, which were also reported to the police.

One of the women granted MPR News an interview, but declined to have her name published out of fear for her family’s safety.

She said the letters were especially troublesome because she was pregnant at the time and the letters threatened to put her baby “out of its misery once it was born.”

“It really focused on how having children coming into this world by gay people wasn’t right,” she said. “I felt threatened for my child, who was coming. My wife and I were not really sleeping well, and still to this day it’s kind of hard.”

The couple has beefed up security at their house, but there haven’t been subsequent threats.

St. Peter Police Chief Matt Peters said the letters to both couples are the subject of an ongoing investigation. He said the letters are notable because they make similar threats and use similar language and punctuation.

“We’re tracking that as a lead, certainly,” he said.

Peters said his officers are looking at an additional letter with racist language sent this spring to an African-American man.

The Department of Human Services oversees the security hospital where most of the victims work. In a statement, DHS commissioner Emily Piper said the department’s internal investigations team is helping law enforcement get to the bottom of the “disturbing incidents.”

She said the hospital is “an inclusive workplace that respects differences and honors the basic human dignity that we all share.”

Mace posted all the letters on a GoFundMe page she and her wife set up this week to collect funds for a reward for anyone who provides information leading to an arrest and prosecution.

But that has exposed a rift over the investigation.

Police Chief Peters said he’s concerned the fundraiser’s web page has revealed details about the case that should not have been made public. He said the department has leads to pursue but he’s now concerned the investigation has been compromised.

Mace said she thinks the investigation isn’t moving fast enough, and hopes the web page will generate new leads.

“I’m appreciative of what the police department is doing, they’ve been extremely supportive,” Mace said. “But I don’t want a fourth and fifth person to get these letters and feel the way we feel.”