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.