MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Four ghost hunters are facing felony charges for breaking into an historic church in Litchfield, Minnesota.
The Ness Church has been the target of vandals for years. Ghost hunters have posted YouTube videos of what they say are “confirmed sightings” of ghosts at the site. One video from another Minnesotan in 2012 shows ghost hunters near the historic church:
(NOTE: Video contains strong language)
Church board members say there are no ghosts here — just buildings and a burial site that played a key role in an infamous chapter in Minnesota history.
On Sunday at 1:53 a.m., Meeker County deputies responded to a burglary alarm at Ness Church, located on the 24000 block of 580th Avenue, according to the county sheriff’s office. While en route, deputies observed a vehicle leaving the area. The deputies then stopped the car and arrested its four occupants in connection to the church crime.
The suspects have been identified as 23-year-old Kyle Huber, of Victoria; 23-year-old Todd Suurmeyer of Sioux Falls, South Dakota; 25-year-old Joseph Porter of Sioux Falls and 24-year-old Brittani Roberts, of Sioux Falls. After their arrest, the suspects were taken to the Meeker County Jail on suspicion of burglary and criminal damage to property.
The suspects are accused of gaining access to the church by breaking several of its windows. They also smashed part of a monument that marks where the first five of an eventual 490 victims of the 1862 U.S.-Dakota War were buried in a hurry. A window of an out building was also broken. An investigation is now determining the full extent of the damage and if there were items taken from the church.
“The first five were buried here in two boxes, five people in two boxes,” church board member David Larson said. “Of course they had to bury them quick, because they had to get out before they were killed.”
Ness church Board members says the videos and other online posting aren’t valid, and that they readily give tours of the church to show there are no ghosts.
“People lived here all of their lives — went to this church all of their lives — and have never seen any signs of ghosts,” Larson said.
The three male suspects are expected to make a court appearance Tuesday. Roberts was released pending further investigation.