Osakis Woman Killed After Coming Home To Intruders

By Lindsey Seavert, WCCO-TV

OSAKIS, Minn. (WCCO) —Authorities say a 51-year-old woman was murdered Friday after returning home from lunch and discovering intruders inside her home.

Police say Diane Fortenberry was killed when she came home during lunch to let her dog outside and found a burglary in progress at her residence, which is on County Road 10 and East Whitetail Drive near Lake Osakis.

An autopsy conducted Saturday by the Medical Examiner’s Office revealed that Fortenberry died as a result of blunt force trauma.

Sheriff Peter Mikkelson said Fortenberry’s son came home at 4:40 p.m., found his mother and called 911. She was pronounced dead at the Long Prairie Hospital.

Police won’t say if she was alive when her son came home. Mikkelson also wouldn’t say if she knew the intruders or if there was a struggle. Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) investigators were also on scene to search for evidence, as a sheriff’s department searched the region on horseback.

Police said a 32-inch flat-screen TV, a jewelry box containing a large amount of black hills gold jewelry, a lap top computer, collector bill and coins, and other electronic were stolen from the house.

Mikkelson is asking for the public to report any suspicious activity.

“We’d like to think we live in a real safe community, we don’t have problems like this, but with society the way it is nowadays, we need to be vigilant and prepared and aware of surroundings,” said Mikkelson, who is asking the public to even check empty cabins in this lake community where many have yet to move up for the season.

The crime shocked neighbors who live on Lake Osakis.

“We are definitely going to be locking our doors,” said Lori Mielke, who lives nearby with her husband, Rich.

“It’s rural, wildlife, fishing and birds. Never expect anything like this — so violent, pretty shocking and surprising,” said Rich Mielke.

Fortenberry grew up in the Osakis area. Her family says she moved away to Mississippi but returned three years ago with her husband and two sons. Her parents and brother live on the same road, and her family is well known in the tight knit community. She was loved by her co-workers at the Hensley Trucking Company , who say she went home for lunch at the same time every day.

Authorities had previously ruled Fortenberry’s death as “suspicious.”

Sheriff Mikkelson says this is Todd County’s first homicide since 2006. He says there haven’t been any other recent burglaries in the area.

  • Tom

    now you know why we should carry guns……..

    • james


    • No more right to carry laws

      Wrong. I am all for the concealed weapon law, but not the new law which gives the average citizen the right to shoot anyone just because they feel threatened. I speak for all of the emergency responders and paramedics who must respond to a home where the family member is unconscious and the family goes crazy when the EMT comes out and says, ” they did all they could, but their loved one has died” and the family suddenly attacks the emergency responders and attempts to kill them because they were the LAST ones with them. No I do not believe we need to return to the wild west days. We live in a very safe Country. where the crime rate has actually gone down.

      • Norma Fischer

        Thank you for imparting some sanity into this situation. No, we do not want every unstable person carrying a weapon. First responders, we are so grateful to you for all you endure to save lives. I know it’s bad enough now, so please don’t make it worse for these hard-working men and women. Everyone carrying a gun does not make it safer, or better! Again, thank you to all the Emercency Responders!

      • michele

        I beg to differ with this statement if this poor woman had had a gun she would still be alive

        • Grant

          That is also incorrect, if the woman had a gun she would have had to do two things, one, pull it from her purse, or two, get it from somewhere in her house, either action would have sparked attention to the robbers in which they would have harmed her faster and quicker as they felt they were being threatened. However, since this article does not contain any information about what the robbers had on them (as officials don’t know either) we can be uncertain if having a gun would have even sufficed. Yes, if they just had a bat, then maybe she would be more powerful to have a gun, but if they had a gun, there is no competition.

          • Jason

            What you dont get is the fact her chances of living would have been greatly increased if she had a weapon. Could she have suffered the same fate? ,Maybe. Maybe not. At least she had a chance.

        • Dave

          Cough. Please. I remember one cop telling me if you see someone, in your house, with a knife, it’s effin on!

        • Kristi Walburn

          really – you know that for a fact? maybe she would have shot a police officer responing to an alarm? maybe she would have shot a concerned neighbor… maybe she would have shot an emt responing for a call for help…. maybe you better stop and think before you pull the trigger

        • Brandon

          Your an idiot. You somehow just took gunlaws and mixed it with racism. The 2nd amendment is there for you own protection. Every american citizen has the right to defend their own life with a firearm if need be. I should change that, every american citizen that isn’t a felon. You only get the gift of life once. If someone takes it, theres no coming back. And to all you people who are talking about Emergency responders getting shot, I have to ask.. WHAT?? they come to the scene in a truck with lights flashing and sirens blowing and some how they are going to get shot by mistake??? wow.. I myself would of liked to see the headline of this story say.. woman comes home from work on break and shoots intruders to defend her life. I don’t care what color their skins were.

          • Donna

            I would’ve ordinarily agreed that EMS workers are not likely to be shot on duty, but I’ve seen it here in a little village on the St. Lawrence River. 911 call came from the girlfriend of a guy having chest pain. EMS arrives and said patient (strung out on meth) opens fire and kills a young EMS worker who pushed the others aside to safety. Wasn’t exactly a mistaken identity thing–just a druggie making bad choices. Maybe it’s the EMS who should be armed!

            • Doug

              I don’t think a meth head is comparable to a straight minded woman, anyone with the proper training can be very safe and effective with a weapon. In this case a weapon was her only chance in my opinion, she had 0% chance unarmed against what i assume to be someone younger and stronger.

        • Jason

          So someone is murdered while she walks into her home while its being burglerized and is killed. You have the nerve to state she was better off not having a weapon. To top that you bring up the race B.S. Shame on you.

      • John

        Cough. Please. I remember one cop telling me if you see someone, in your house, with a knife, it’s effin on!

      • Bob

        As an emergency responder I am very offended that you think you speak for me. Your situation is very unrealistic and in no way has anything to do with people defnding themselves from a threatening person. I am all for people being able to protect themselves.

    • Mel

      So only criminals and police should have guns?! Not understanding the logic behind that one.

  • NRA Guy

    gents — neither a gun nor tougher laws woulda saved the poor woman based on the above. The perps woulda heard her eneter-she didn’t know they inside or she never would have entered. She packing – they win with element of surprise.
    As far as tougher laws – at this point we don’t even know if they had records. Or maybe they just finished 20 years for a robbery.
    I’m totally in favor of LONG sentences. I happen to carry too – but for way to many I think it better they don’t based on what I have seen over the years. You might win one at times, and you likely will lose a helluva lot more when the perp does the freaky do.
    Some human trash is just ROTTEN TRASH. Not much you can do on the front end.
    Fricken sad story and ending. People are sick

    • Guy

      Killing during the commission of a felony becomes death by slow torture … impalement or crucifiction. Make the criminal FEAR to harm …

  • Jay

    Very sad, and my sincere sympathy to the womans family. The ONE place we should feel the most secure has turned into sites we have to be most alert to the smallest thing out of place, or out of the ordinary, when we come back home. A local woman returned early from a function to notice a strange vehicle in her driveway. She didnt enter the home, but backed her car in such a way as to prevent whomever from getting out. She went to a neighbors, called the police, then she and the neighbor’s husband went back to the house disturbing the burgulars, catching one. The cops caught the other three. Luckily, for this woman she didnt enter the house and surprise the burgulars, things could have ended on a sad note. Many of us think living in the country we are safer, not so. Less people around to notice strange things, or be suspicious of a strange vehicle in someones yard, unless they know for a fact the owners are gone away for a period of time on vacation. When we leave for the day, weekend or for extended periods, we always alert our neighbors. We watch out for each other which makes us all feel safer.

  • JC

    Neighborhood groups and people in the community would help ID suspicious activities and have the capacity to report to Law Enforcement officials details that might be helpful in running down these law breakers. I agree with the comment above about increased laws that protect people from these events but they only are valid if people are caught and brought to justice.

  • Roger

    This is the reason I have a LARGE dog that lets anyone outside know he’s inside.

  • Ron

    I would rather die, in a gunfight than as a helpless prisoner. I would rather go through the gates of Valhalla as a warrior having died in a battle than be killed unarmed without a fight by a mere burglar.

    Burglars are treated as more petty criminals than they truly are. When Horse thieves were hubng it sent a message to the Horse thieves that they were playing with a serious hand. Recidism among horse thieves were low…

  • Bob

    Nra guy, overcoming the surprise factor I’d tough but imagine the last few moments of this womans life, I’d always like the option for a fighting chance.Their are no guarantees…..

  • Goob

    I’d bet they needed $$$ for more drugs. The sky is the limit for people wanting or needing drugs

  • marrrrr

    I’m all for stronger laws but I also dont think they would keep people from breaking them,I dont think people are thinking about how much prison time they will get while they are committing the crimes,serial killers pretty much prove that,I believe it goes back to better parenting,too many kids/ teenagers run wild, too darn many parents make excuses for their kids out of control behavior or they simply look the other way and chalk it up to a “phase” they are going through,much like Jeffrey Dahmer’s father did when his young son was fascinated with killing animals.@ NRA Guy,A dogs barking wouldn’t necessarily alert you to an intruder, depending on the dog.Lots of little dogs will bark when they hear your car pull up just because they are so excited that your home.If my dog wasn’t barking,I surely wouldn’t enter my home.

  • james

    It is a truly naive person that thinks that stronger laws prevents crimes of opportunity. When you believe you can get away with it, the laws will not matter. Punitive reprocussions are after the fact, had there been stricter crimes, she would still be dead and they would just be in prison longer.

  • pretzeldude

    If more people carried and used their weapons for defense then these criminals would be doing some thinking before they acted.
    In my case don’t break into my house or attack me or my family. If I don’t kill you then I’ll hunt your ass after I hunt you down and kill you later. I am always armed & ready.
    If you ask me how well armed am I, I’ll tell you. If you ask me what I’m afraid of I’ll tell you “NOT A DAMNED THING”.

  • kevin

    Two things, one we need a castile doctrine law in this state. Number two when in prison these convicts need to be punished not the way they have it now. You see photo’s of there cells and they have all the comforts of home,three meals a day and the be health care our tax money can buy. Clean out there cells supply minimal health care and truly make there stay in prison misserable. Rehab for most of them is just a pipe dream.

  • Curt

    It seems pretty obvious that this would have never happened if the dog had been armed. I ask you, where’s the law that allows our devoted pets to be carrying a gun? A bark may keep some burglars out of your home, but a gun toting dog will make the would be robber think twice.

    • Brianne

      I am absolutely disgusted by your dry humor pertaining to a tragedy like this. An innocent lady’s life was taken in a brutal manner, and all you can make out of it is a sarcastic joke.. which obviously only you found funny. Shame on you.

      • TB

        I’m sure little Curty is living with his parents. Someday he will be on the wrong end of a tragedy and his shallow character will break like glass.
        Curty, you truly are pathetic.

    • lil' billy

      Now that is funny…thanks.

  • shirley

    Not to sound like judge Judy,,,,,,however,, I think there’s more to this story.

    • Cindy

      The “more’ to this story is she came in on a burglary and was killed!!! I have known this woman and her family for over twenty years. We live just a few miles from her husband’s family in Mississippi and were really good friends with them. My son and their oldest son played ball together and were in shcool together until they moved back to MN three years ago. It’s sad that people think they have the right to go into someone’s else’s home and take what they have worked hard to have, but then on top of it they take 2 boys’s mother from them! And to you “Shirley”, the sad world we live also has skeptical people such as yourself that think there is always something “more to the story”. Just remember 2 boys have lost their mother, a man has lost his wife that he loved dearly, and her parents have lost their daughter senselessly!

    • Ali baba

      I am sure when the cops start to dig, all kinds of thngs will come up.

  • No to meth

    i think it was a meth head who did stop the drug and the killing will stop

  • JD

    My consolences to the family that are innocent.
    I can’t see paying thousands of dollars to keep a murderer alive in prison until he/she dies of old age.
    Before a death penalty could be reinstated all the facts have to be correct and checked and rechecked so no innocent ones are put to death.
    Even a chain gang would be better than letting them get a free education,free meals and play time in prison and appeals and complaining about every little thing etc etc.

  • What this world coming to

    Wow had sad, You can not even have a house now a days without the concern in back of your mind that something like this could happen. Years ago you could leave your doors unlocked in the counrty and not worry about as much as now. What is this world coming to! Probably maybe a drugy did this trying to support there stupid bad habit sick son of a guns. Whoever did this get a job and a life. I hope they did not hurt the dog maybe that’s why it was not barking.

  • Anonymous

    im in the same grade as the boy who found her.. its just tragic… no one deserves this kind of thing. well except the person who did this to their family. they deserve to rot in hell for all i care

  • Jamey Houseweart

    This is another example of why we should be putting much more emphasis on our problems here in the United States. We always go to aid the foreigners but when distruction and crime hit us. Does anyone else help us??? It is very sad for the true hard working americans that find themselves in a fight for survival for their lives, cuz of the low-lives that do the stupid crimes. Stricter laws are needed forsure, but jails and prisons are so overly populated that is why it seems like so many criminals get a slap on the wrist.

  • Saddened in Osakis

    How do you know that they didn’t kill the dogs? There are very few facts that have been released at this time. It is a tragedy and loss. I know that all of you are just thinking out loud, but remember that their poor family has already had their lives flipped upside down. This house is in a pretty open area on a fairly busy road. There are neighbors and family who live nearby. We all wish we could think of something that could prevent humans from doing these ruthless actions. The sad part is that most of the time there are no easy answers and nothing that we can do to prevent these things from happening to us. We would like to believe that we can, but in reality we don’t.

  • Courtney

    Bob’s got it right. Innocent people fall victim to the same criminals all the time, maybe if there was “real” punishment instead of slaps on the wrist we wouldn’t have quite so much of this happening. God bless this woman and her family. This is truely a tragedy.

  • xx

    I simply thing that all prisons should be eliminated. Prisons simply don’t work.
    It costs millions of $$ per year to house prisoners.
    If a person needs to be kept off of the street, a .38 slug in the back of the head only costs about 75 cents and then there are no repeat offenders.

    Save the millions and billions of $$ spent on prisons.
    Save the billions of $$ spent on appeals. A person has 30 days to appeal a sentence one time and then the sentence is carried out. No repeat appeals.

    • Kevin

      And let you be the first person to be mistakenly arrested and convicted and have your appeal denied.

  • John

    IF she saw the burglary in progress and then went in the house then a handgun might have helped IF the burglar(s) didn’t see or hear her coming. However, my guess is that the burglar(s) heard her drive up and ambushed her when she came in the house. In that case, with the element of surprise favoring the criminals a handgun would have made absolutely no difference. “Carry and conceal” is not a panacea for victims of violent crimes.

  • HS

    Everyone just please pray for the Fortenberry family, they live 4 miles from me, i dont know them very well but i do know they are very kind people that did not deserve this! Please just pray for her family she left behind.

    • Jason

      I will.
      God bless her family.

  • CJ

    I live 10 miles away from the victim, knew her but not well. I’ll be parking my cars in the shop every weekday I have off now just hoping these dopers decide to show up and take my TV. I’ll be ready, and they’ll be done with. So F’N sick of the meth problem in Todd and Douglas counties.

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