MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Two farmers discovered the body of Laura Schwendemann in a Douglas County cornfield last October, after a two-week search for the 18-year-old college student.
That is when Douglas County Attorney Chad Larson says his legal odyssey began.
“He opted to pull her out of the vehicle, swing her over his shoulder and he carried her 18 rows into a cornfield and dumped her there,” Larson said.
Nickolas McArdell admitted doing drugs with Schwendemann and leaving her in the cornfield and she appeared to have overdosed.
But Larson could not charge McArdell with anything more than a gross misdemeanor.
He is asking lawmakers to make it a felony to conceal or move a body.
The Schwendemann family, in a letter to state lawmakers, described the “unbearable pain and anguish” when McArdell refused to reveal the location of their daughter.
And then the family was shocked when he got the maximum sentence of 365 days in jail.
“Very hard on the family, very hard on the friends and relatives,” said State Senator Torrey Westrom, R-Elbow Lake.
Douglas County’s two State Senators are calling for penalties in similar cases of at least three, and up to 10 years in prison.
“I can’t imagine somebody taking it upon themselves to be, to be God, quite frankly,” said Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria. “To say, ‘Nope, she’s dead, I’m just going to get rid of it because I don’t know what to do with the problem.'”
The Senate Judiciary Committee did approve a scaled-back version of the bill, making the concealing of a body a felony punishable by three years in jail.
McArdell also received more jail time in addition to his 365-day sentence because of a probation violation.
The irony is that if McArdell had called 911 for help, Minnesota’s Good Samaritan law would have kicked in and he might not have been charged with anything.