Benton County Sheriff's Office

  • Agency: Benton County Sheriff's Office
  • Address: 581 Highway 23, Foley, 56329 MN
  • Chief:
Phone: (320) 968-7201
Fax: (320) 968-6885

Benton County Sheriff's Office is located at 581 Highway 23, Foley, 56329 MN. The Benton County Sheriff's Office phone number is (320) 968-7201.

Benton County Sheriff's Office News

The Benton County Sheriff’s Office today arrested a man for the death of a 7-month-old infant from Rice. James Joseph Robert Wood, 29, of St. Joseph, was arrested on charges of 3rd Degree Murder and is being held in the Benton County Jail. At about 10:15 a.m. on October 13, 2018, deputies, firefighters and paramedics were called to a home in the 1100 block of 108th St NW, Rice, Minn. in response to the report of an infant death. The Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office determined that the infant’s death was a homicide resulting from blunt force trauma. Evidence found during the course of the investigation led investigators to arrest James Joseph Robert Wood for the infant’s death. Wood was in a significant relationship with the infant’s mother and had arrived at the home on the evening of October 12, 2018, with plans to stay the weekend at the residence. Wood was arrested during the early morning hours of October 13, 2018, by the Morrison County Sheriff’s Office for DUI and 4th Degree Assault and held in their custody until he was arraigned on the DUI charges this morning. Wood was arrested following his court appearance and transported to the Benton County Jail. The Benton County Sheriff’s Office and Minnesota BCA are continuing the investigation into this homicide. Anyone with information about this crime or the suspect is asked to contact the Benton County Sheriff’s Office at 320-968-7201 or Tri-County Crime Stoppers at 800-255-1301,

The Benton County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the death of a 7 month old infant. On 10-13-18 at about 10:15 am, the Benton County Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call from a 33 year-old woman in Rice, MN. The woman reported that she believed her 7 month old son was deceased. Benton County deputies, Rice firefighters, and Gold Cross paramedics responded to the woman’s home in the 1100 block of 108th St NW, Rice, Watab Township, MN. Upon arrival, deputies and firefighters found the 7 month old child inside the residence. Lifesaving efforts were begun, however a short time later, the child was pronounced dead at the scene. Deputies secured the residence and began an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the child’s death. The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension was called to the scene to assist with the investigation. The child’s body was transported to the Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office for an autopsy. The investigation into the cause and manner of this child’s death is ongoing. There is no evidence of any threat to public safety as a result of this incident.

The Benton County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the alleged assault of Shane Mekeland, a candidate running for a seat in the Minnesota House of Representatives. On 10-13-18 Shane Mekeland called the Benton County Sheriff’s Office to report that he was physically assaulted while at a business in Benton County. Mekeland reported that he was at a bar and restaurant in St. George Township on 10-12-18 between about 9:00 pm and 10:00 pm. Mekeland reported that he was talking about politics with another adult male in this establishment. Mekeland reported that he and this man were having an amiable conversation, until it ended abruptly when the man apparently took offense to a statement Mekeland made concerning the “middle class.” Mekeland stated that the man punched him in the face without warning. Mekeland reported receiving personal injuries as a result of this assault. The suspect in this case was identified and has been interviewed. The investigation into this matter is still on going. Because the suspect has not been arrested or charged with a crime, his name is not available to be released at this time.

Would you like to work at a job where you make a difference instead of just a paycheck? Do you have the ability to multitask in a fast paced environment? If so, check out our current job opening for Public Safety Dispatcher. Begin the process that could land you on the team charged with keeping Benton County safe!

FEATURED BENTON COUNTY WARRANT Phillip Andrew Wichterman, age 34 Benton County Warrant for 3rd Degree Controlled Substance Crime. If you have any information regarding Wichterman's whereabouts please contact the Benton County Sheriff's Office at 320-968-7201. You may also use the Tri-County Crime Stoppers "Quick 50" program to remain anonymous and be eligible for a $50.00 reward. Tri-County Crime Stoppers: Tip Line: 1-800-255-1301

The Benton County Sheriff’s Office and Foley Fire Department are investigating the cause of a fire that resulted in the death of one person. On 10-07-18 at about 6:00 pm Benton County deputies and Foley firefighters responded to a residential fire in the 14200 block of 78th St NE in Maywood Township. Responding deputies arrived to find heavy smoke pouring out of the residence and made contact with an adult male who stated he had to escape the home through a 2nd floor window. Deputies on scene learned that another adult male, later identified as Bruce Edward Linn (age 59 of Foley), was still inside the residence. The heavy smoke and flame present in the residence prohibited entry into the home. Upon their arrival, Foley firefighters entered the home, working to extinguish the fire and reach Linn. Linn was ultimately found deceased inside the home. An investigator from the State Fire Marshall’s Office was dispatched to the scene to assist with the investigation. The cause of the fire remains under investigation at this time, as does the manner of Linn’s death.

Since 2008, the Benton County Sheriff's Office has fielded a K-9 team. From 2008 to 2016 Ben patrolled the streets of Benton County. More recently, Ragnar has been on patrol. Both of these animals have been excellent additions to our office and a tremendous resource in our mission to keep Benton County safe! #GetToKnowYourSO

FEATURED BENTON COUNTY WARRANT Christopher Michael Lawless, age 33 Benton County Warrant for 3rd Degree Assault, Domestic Assault, and Domestic Assault Strangulation. If you have any information regarding Lawless' whereabouts please contact the Benton County Sheriff's Office at 320-968-7201. You may also use the Tri-County Crime Stoppers "Quick 50" program to remain anonymous and be eligible for a $50.00 reward. Tri-County Crime Stoppers: Tip Line: 1-800-255-1301

The Benton County Sheriff's Office has completed our fall predatory offender checks. All 19 offenders living within the unincorporated areas of the county were in compliance with their registration requirements.

October is National Domestic Abuse Awareness month. Domestic abuse remains an all too common issue in Benton County. Abusive relationships have many dynamics that can make victims feel as though it is impossible for them to escape their situation. If you know someone you suspect is in an abusive relationship, have a conversation with them and encourage them to make use of resources such as Anna Marie's Alliance in St. Cloud.

On Wednesday, October 3rd at 1:18 pm, the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) will conduct a routine system test. IPAWS is the system that send emergency alerts to citizens through various means, including most recently emergency alerts delivered to cell phones. When your cell phone makes an unusual noise tomorrow, know that it is a good thing and shows the system is functioning properly. For more information about IPAWS click below:

Educating the public on the topic of avoiding scams is a priority of the Benton County Sheriff’s Office. Thankfully, people can avoid being taken by almost all scams by following the simple rule that states, never give money or personal information to someone who contacts you unexpectedly, regardless of who they say they are. This advice is the equivalent of Preventing Scams 101. The topic of this writing covers those scams that may be a bit more sophisticated and not so obvious. We’ll call today’s topic Preventing Scams 201. Most criminals conducting scams work a numbers game. They concoct a thinly veiled reason for seeking money or information from people and contact as many people as possible hoping that they can find that small fraction who will fall victim to their crime. Just as troublesome though are the few criminals out there who employ more crafty methods. They work hard to convince you they are who they purport to be; whether that be a service tech for your cable company, an employee from your credit card company, or perhaps the seemingly nice person you just met online. They are hoping to get you to lower your guard by being friendly, helpful, or perhaps even romantic. However they too are seeking your money or personal information. These criminals fall into one of two categories. First, we have the information miners. They may begin by asking seemingly innocent questions about your life. What street did you grow up on? What was the name of your first pet? Where did you go to high school? If these questions sound vaguely familiar, you have likely recently registered for an online account somewhere as these are very common challenge questions found online. With the answers to these questions, criminals are one step closer to resetting your passwords and gaining access to your online accounts. While these folks work hard to disguise their personal questions, the best defense against them is to be alert for seemingly out of context personal questions. If you’re not sure why the person would be asking for this information, don’t give it to them. The next best defense is to have unusual challenge questions in your online accounts. Choose or create questions that are creative and would be unusual for anyone to bring up in conversation. The person you are getting to know might be genuinely interested in what your favorite color is, however, it would be pretty unusual for this same person to ask which compass direction you face in the shower at home. These criminals may also attempt to convince you to divulge personal information such as your Social Security number, credit card number, or banking information. These should be red flag questions regardless of how helpful the person sounds. Next, we have the long con artists. These criminals are going to work to establish a relationship with their victim and over time steal the victim’s money through swindle, lies, and deception. They typically seek to gain the victim’s confidence and then spin a sad tale of woe or misfortune. Once they believe they have gained the victim’s trust, the criminal will seek the victim’s financial help or access to the victim’s finances. This criminal will consistently have some problem that needs the victim’s attention and financial assistance. Many people have fallen victim to these long con games only to find their bank accounts depleted and their supposed friend or romantic partner suddenly gone. To protect themselves, people should be wary of those who are consistently in need of their financial help and should not give financial information or access to individuals they have only recently met. Also, be on alert for signs that someone you know may be in an exploitive relationship and talk with them about your concerns. As Minnesotans, it is our nature to be trusting and helpful. While I’m not suggesting we all become cynics and look at everyone as a potential criminal, a phrase made famous by President Regan applies when attempting to discover one of these less obvious scams, “trust, but verify.”

Properly functioning courts are a foundation of a free society. The Benton County Sheriff's Office has 5 deputies who ensure that our courtrooms and court facility are safe and secure, allowing the wheels of justice to continue turning. #GetToKnowYourSO

This black Angus has been wandering around the northeast portion of Granite Ledge Township for a few days. It appears to be a cow with an orange ear tag. It was last seen near the intersection of County Road 9 and 145th St NE. If you know someone who is missing this animal, please have them contact the Benton County Sheriff's Office at 320-968-7201.

FEATURED BENTON COUNTY WARRANT Jeremiah Anthony Roketa, age 32 Benton County Warrant for Controlled Substance Crime. If you have any information regarding Roketa's whereabouts please contact the Benton County Sheriff's Office at 320-968-7201. You may also use the Tri-County Crime Stoppers "Quick 50" program to remain anonymous and be eligible for a $50.00 reward. Tri-County Crime Stoppers: Tip Line: 1-800-255-1301

It is the time of year when the deer are on the move. We've seen an increase in our car/deer collisions and this is likely only the beginning. Be alert when you are out traveling, especially around dawn/dusk and at night.

A domestic disturbance reported to the Benton County Sheriff’s Office on 09-18-18 between a man and a woman in southeast St. Cloud resulted in the arrest of two men and a woman on a number of charges. At about 8:30 pm on 09-18-18 the Benton County Sheriff’s Office received the report of a man with a gun at the front door of a residence in the 1600 block of 2nd St SE, St. Cloud, MN. Benton County deputies responded to the scene along with officers from the St. Cloud Police Department, Sauk Rapids Police Department, and Minnesota State Patrol. Upon arrival, investigating officers found Candice Mari Counter (age 33 of Sauk Rapids) and Eric Jay Robertson (age 53 of St. Cloud) in a car outside of the residence. Officers also discovered that inside the residence was Carlos Jesus Mendoza (age 50 of St. Cloud) and another adult female. An investigation into the incident revealed that Counter and Mendoza had been in a relationship for the past several weeks. Officers learned that this relationship had come to an end and that Counter had come to Mendoza’s residence to remove her property from the residence while Mendoza was away. After Mendoza arrived home and found Counter removing her property, a physical altercation occurred between Mendoza and Counter. Mendoza and Counter each blamed the other for initiating this altercation. Counter alleged that Mendoza confronted her with a handgun forcing her to strike him to make him drop the gun. Counter alleged that Mendoza then assaulted her. Mendoza denied having a gun and alleged Counter attacked him, only stopping when the other adult female at the residence intervened. Mendoza alleged that after this third person stopped the fight, Counter told Mendoza she was going to get Robertson and a gun. Officers did not find a gun in the possession of any of the people at the scene. A Benton County K-9 was called to the scene to search the area for a gun. During this search, a black backpack was located on the patio. Mendoza advised officers that this was his backpack and gave his consent to search it. Inside the backpack, officers found items belonging to both Mendoza and Counter along with drug paraphernalia. The K-9 completed an extensive search of the area for a gun, but was unable to locate one. Following this search, the K-9 was brought to the car Counter and Robertson had been inside when officers arrived. The K-9 gave indication that there were controlled substances inside the vehicle. Officers conducted a search of the vehicle and located a black purse. Inside the purse were documents indicating the purse belonged to Counter, drug paraphernalia, and two small plastic baggies containing several grams of suspected methamphetamine. Officers searching the car then located several bags containing counterfeit $50 bills in property belonging to Counter. Finally, inside the locked glove compartment of the car, officers located several ounces of suspected methamphetamine and a gram scale. The investigation revealed that the car in question belonged to Robertson. Robertson was searched and officers located over $1,000 in cash on his person. Mendoza was arrested on charges of domestic assault. Counter was arrested on charges of domestic assault and controlled substance crime. Robertson was arrested on charges of controlled substance crime. All three were brought to the Benton County Jail.

On 09-18-18 the Benton County Sheriff’s Office arrested a man for possession of suspected methamphetamine and cited a woman for possession of drug paraphernalia. At about 11:30 am on 09-18-18, a Benton County deputy stopped at a residence on Indian Rd NW in Watab Township to conduct an investigation. Upon stopping at this residence, the deputy found a vehicle parked in the driveway that was occupied by three people. The deputy made contact with the individuals in the vehicle to find out if the person he needed to speak with was among them. The deputy learned that the person he needed to speak with was in the vehicle and also detected the odor of marijuana coming from inside the vehicle. The deputy spoke briefly to the person he had sought out at the residence before making contact with the person in the driver’s seat of the vehicle, Willow Mae Adkins-Bollig (age 19 of Little Falls). Adkins-Bollig told the deputy that she had just finished smoking marijuana and handed the deputy a container that held trace remnants of a green leafy substance believed to be marijuana. The deputy then requested Adkins-Bollig and the front seat passenger, Daniel Gene Hoehle (age 32 of Little Falls) step out of the vehicle. The deputy asked Hoehle for his identification. Hoehle gave the deputy a false name, identifying himself as his twin brother. Once Hoehle’s true identity was discovered, it was learned that he had two active warrants for his arrest. A search of the vehicle was conducted which yielded several items of drug paraphernalia. During the search a small plastic baggie containing suspected methamphetamine was found on the ground below the passenger door of the vehicle. After this baggie was found, Hoehle made a statement to the deputy indicating that the illegal substances belonged to him. The squad car video of this incident was reviewed and the deputy observed that Hoehle was seen on this video exiting the vehicle upon the deputy’s request, dropping an object next to the passenger side of the vehicle, and kicking this object under the vehicle. Hoehle was arrested on his outstanding warrants and on the new charges of giving a false name to police and possession of methamphetamine. Hoehle was transported to the Benton County Jail. Adkins-Bollig was cited for possession of drug paraphernalia and released at the scene. The Benton County Sheriff’s Office was assisted at this incident by the Rice Police Department.

The Benton County Mounted Patrol is a group of volunteers who assist the Benton County Sheriff's Office with security, search and rescue, and other assignments while on horseback. We are currently looking for people who would like to help us keep Benton County safe through work on the Mounted Patrol. We are seeking volunteers who are 21 years old or older with riding experience who own their own horse. Individuals must also live in Benton, Stearns, Morrison, Mille Lacs, or Sherburne counties. Mounted patrol members are required to attend at least 4 of 8 monthly meetings and be able to work at the Benton County Fair and other similar events in Benton County. Those interested in applying or those who may have additional questions are asked to contact Captain Kyle Dusing by email at or by telephone at 320-968-7201.

The men and women who work to ensure we have food each day are getting ready to jump into the harvest season. In the coming weeks, tractors, combines, and trucks will be sharing the road with the rest of us. Please drive with care around these vehicles. Give them room and exercise patience and caution around them. Do your part to make sure we all have a pleasant and safe fall season!

The IRS telephone scam is hitting area telephones again. The IRS does not contact people via telephone to collect on delinquent taxes. The IRS does not accept payment via gift cards. If you receive these calls, hang up and do not call the criminal as requested. Never give money or information to anyone who contacts you unexpectedly. More importantly, please talk to people you know who might not know that this is a scam. Information is the best way to combat these criminals.

A post on Facebook has been circulating recently indicating that an attempted burglary occurred in Watab Township and that a young woman was found in the area after having stopped at a few homes. The post indicated that St. Cloud has experienced crimes involving a young woman going to the door of people’s homes to serve as the point person who gets the victim to open the door allowing two accomplices to then rush in behind her and rob the victims. Clear communication can be a tricky thing. Sometimes people providing information make speculations or don't communicate things clearly and sometimes well-meaning people misunderstand information that is given to them. While I don't know the cause of the misinformation in this case, I can say that the Benton County Sheriff’s Office did respond to a complaint of a suspicious person on 09-11-18 at about 8:00 pm. This report involved a young woman who had knocked on the door of a residence in the 5000 block of NE River Rd in Watab Township. The woman stated she was walking to St. Cloud and was cold and scared. We responded to the area along with the MN State Patrol. A State Trooper found the young woman and learned that she had been visiting a residence in Watab Township, had been asked to leave the residence, and was walking back to St. Cloud. The State Trooper identified her and provided her with a ride to a residence in St. Cloud. No other individuals were found in the area and we did not receive any reports of attempted burglaries or other crimes involving this young woman. I contacted the St. Cloud Police Department asked if they have any reports matching the description of the crimes contained in the Facebook post. I learned that they have not had any such incidences reported to their department. All the information we have regarding this young woman is that she was simply trying to get back to St. Cloud. While it is possible she was involved in potential criminal activity, we have no information indicating that was the case.

FEATURED BENTON COUNTY WARRANT Ronnell Woods, age 23 Benton County Warrant for Kidnapping, 2nd Degree Assault, Stalking, and OFP violation. If you have any information regarding Wood's whereabouts please contact the Benton County Sheriff's Office at 320-968-7201. You may also use the Tri-County Crime Stoppers "Quick 50" program to remain anonymous and be eligible for a $50.00 reward. Tri-County Crime Stoppers: Tip Line: 1-800-255-1301

Seventeen years have passed since 9/11/2001 changed lives, hearts, and the course of history. Like many of you, I can remember exactly where I was and what I was doing that terrible day. I doubt that neither I nor anyone else old enough to understand what was happening that day will ever forget the events. But today we pause to do more than just recall from memory the events that happened on that fateful day. Today, we pause to reflect on the loss of the victims and their families. We pause to reflect on the heroic sacrifices of police, firefighters, EMS workers, and citizens who rushed in to help others in need and who rose up to stop the terrorists on flight 93. We pause to reflect on the service and sacrifice of the brave men and women who rose up to our country's defense in the days and years following these terror attacks. As we remember and reflect upon these events, let us dedicate ourselves to honoring the sacrifices made for us by finding our own personal way in which we can make our community and our country a better place. May we always remember and honor those heroes of 9/11.

On 09-09-18 the Benton County Sheriff’s Office responded to an address in Minden Township concerning a person in crisis threatening to harm himself and others with a firearm. After making prolonged efforts to contact the person in crisis, this person was eventually found deceased within a home in the 7300 block of Hwy 95 NE with what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The victim’s name in this incident is Rodolfo Alberto Gomez, Jr. (age 44 of Sauk Rapids). Gomez was a military veteran and, according to those closest to him, appeared to fall victim to an acute mental health crisis in the days and hours preceding his death. Gomez’s family hopes that his passing serves as a reminder of the importance of mental health services for veterans experiencing crisis so that future tragedies may be prevented.