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Man sentenced in connection to 2018 Adams burglary

Dustin Palfrey Cummings, 43, of Austin was sentenced on Thursday in Mower County DIstrict Court to three concurrent sentences of 60 months in the Minnesota Correctional Facility in St. Cloud for two counts of felony violent felon in possession of a firearm and one count of felony felon convicted of a crime of violence – firearm or ammunition violation. He received an additional concurrent sentence of 38 months in prison for felony second-degree burglary – dwelling. He received credit for 382 days served.

Dustin Palfrey Cummings, 43

Six counts of felony violent felon in possession of a firearm and one count each of felony first-degree burglary – possess dangerous weapon/explosive – and felony theft – take/use/transfer movable property without consent – were dismissed at the sentencing as part of a plea agreement reached on May 10.

Judge Jeffrey Kritzer issued the sentence.

Court documents state that Mower County deputies were dispatched at 3:07 p.m. on Dec. 31, 2018. to a residence in the 67000 block of 150th Street in Adams Township. A woman at the residence told dispatch she was returning home and saw a silver van with a male driver leaving her driveway. When she went into the residence, she noticed a laptop computer, ammunition, and a green safe containing several firearms, among other items, had been stolen. Another green safe at the residence had been damaged.

A deputy spotted the suspect van, a 2005 Ford Freestar, heading west on County Road 3. The deputy stopped the van near the intersection of Highway 56 and identified the driver as Michael Joseph Winkels. The deputy asked where he was coming from and Winkels said he had been at a residence in Adams to fix the water heater on a camper. The deputy then telephoned the home owner and asked if Winkels was supposed to be on his property to work on a water heater. The owner said “no” and informed the deputy that he sold his camper in July 2018 and that Winkels had no reason to be on his property. 

Winkels declined to let the deputy search the van; however, a detective arrived on the scene with the homeowner, who observed several pieces of his property in plain view inside the van. Winkels was then arrested and the van was towed to the Mower County Law Enforcement Center.

Deputies searched the van and found a black bag containing a Ruger LCP .300 caliber pistol, vehicle tabs belonging to Cummings, two explosive devices, 16.77 grams of methamphetamine, a methamphetamine pipe and a plastic straw used for methamphetamine consumption. They also found a laptop computer, tannerite exploding targets, miscellaneous tools, clay pigeons, shotgun shells, a sledgehammer with green paint transfer (the same color as the damaged safe), 4G hotspot and clothing.

A relative of the victims told investigators that he had driven past the victims’ residence at 1 p.m. on the date of the burglary and saw a Chevrolet SUV pulling a trailer that was just west of the residence. He recognized the Chevrolet as belonging to someone (later identified as Cummings) associated with Winkels.

A detective interviewed Winkels, who denied being involved in the burglary and having any knowledge of the items found in the van. He also said the van belonged to “Jesse” and “Maria,” who lived near Skinner’s Hill in Austin.

A deputy later received information that some of the stolen items were possibly at a building in the 1300 block of Fourth Street Southeast in Austin. The deputy contacted the landlord, who said he leased part of the building to Cummings. Law enforcement executed a search warrant on the property and found Cummings inside with a woman and two minor children. Police seized a Henry .22 caliber rifle with five rounds of ammunition, a .45 caliber round of ammunition and miscellaneous drug items found inside.

A detective spoke to Cummings, who denied involvement in any thefts or burglaries, saying the woman he was with had allowed Winkels to drive the van and that Winkels had “shown up” with guns in the van. He said he believed Winkels had left the rifle at his residence “to set me up.” He initially denied knowing the location of the other stolen guns, but then indicated he had taken them to another Austin home. Cummings was also able to accurately identify the other items in the black bag found in the van and was arrested.

Detectives went to the residence Cummings indicated and made contact with a man who said Cummings and another male had shown up at 9 p.m. on the date of the burglary and took approximately seven firearms to his basement. He said Cummings appeared anxious to get rid of the firearms and he did not feel comfortable with the situation, so he took the firearms and a gun safe to a storage unit in the 1600 block of 31st Street Southwest. 

Detectives found and seized the following items from the storage unit:

  • Mossberg .22 caliber rifle;
  • Thompson/Center .223 caliber rifle;
  • Montgomery Ward Hercules double-barrel 12 gauge shotgun;
  • Savage Edge .243 caliber rifle;
  • Savage Axis .22-.250 caliber rifle;
  • Remington 870 Express Magnum shotgun;
  • Savage B-Mag .17  caliber rifle; and
  • Stack-On gun safe.

A review of Cummings’s criminal history shows prior convictions for damage to property, theft, burglary and aggravated robbery.

Winkels pleaded guilty to charges of felony first-degree burglary – possess dangerous weapon – and felony fifth-degree drugs – possess schedule 1,2,3,4 – not a small amount of marijuana – in connection with the case. He will be sentenced on July 1.