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River Falls police: Alleged thief said he wanted presents for kids

Disorderly conduct

• River Falls police liaison officer Chris Gottfredsen heard two River Falls juveniles arguing loudly and using profanity in the River Falls High School lunchroom on Dec. 21. This was during the end of the high school's morning snack break. Both juveniles were cited for disorderly conduct. One received a $98.80 citation. The other received a $187 citation.

• On Sunday, Dec. 24, Police were sent to a residence in the 300 block of North Second Street for a report of a "physical domestic" /flight in progress. Upon arrival, police could hear a verbal argument from outside the residence. They knocked, and when the door was opened, all parties allegedly began talking with police. A man, identified as Dorian M. Cross 44, River Falls, said the incident was "a simple argument" between himself and a female, though he did allegedly admit to being intoxicated. Neighbors reported hearing Cross threaten violence to the woman. Cross was arrested and taken to Pierce County Jail.

ID card violation

On Dec. 21, at about 1:20 p.m., police were looking over several fake IDs turned in the previous day by the agent of Broz Bar. An officer recognized one of the IDs as belonging to Darrian James Maurice Brown, 20, Coon Rapids, Minnesota. Brown had been given a warning for using a fake ID previously, which had been turned into the police department by Broz Sports Bar. Brown was cited $187.


A woman was arrested at 1:52 a.m. Dec. 22 after a traffic stop for speeding on North Main Street. Alexis Lee Willard, 21, River Falls, was seen driving 35 miles per hour in a 25 mile per hour zone; she was pulled over. The officer speaking with her could smell the scent of alcohol coming from her; she was allegedly slurring her speech. When asked if she had been drinking however, she said no. She allegedly said the alcohol scent was from friends she had just dropped off, who had been drinking, and not herself. The officer conducted standard field sobriety tests; a breathalyzer test resulted in a .182 reading. She allegedly told police she had had three beers at Shooter's Pub, and hadn't eaten anything all day. She was arrested and taken to the River Falls Police Department.

Later, she said she had had three beers at "Shiners."

She was cited $861 for operating while intoxicated, and another $861 for operating with a prohibited alcohol content/concentration. As she could not find a sober person to take responsibility for her, she was taken to St. Croix County Jail.

Retail theft caught on camera

At 7:47 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 21, police were sent to ShopKo, 1777 Paulson Road, for a report of shoplifting in progress. Loss prevention staff brought up video footage of two individuals later identified as Anthony Montrell Brown Jr., 27, St. Paul, Minnesota and Rachel Cora Marie Gee, 25, River Falls.

Brown was seen leaving the vestibule with a bag containing items he had not paid for. When an officer approached him, he allegedly immediately said he knew police were there because the items weren't paid for. He said that Gee was paying for the items. He went willingly with officers into the loss prevention office. Gee was contacted by another officer, and allegedly had not paid for items which she had draped over her shoulder, nor the items in the bag Brown held. She was also brought into the loss prevention office. Gee said she forgot to pay for the items over her arm.

Loss prevention staff told Brown and Gee that they had been seen on camera ripping security tags from clothing items, putting them into the bag Brown held, and walking out without paying. The items were found inside the bag Brown held. Gee said she was willing to pay for the items and believed it was a misunderstanding.

Gee and Brown were arrested and taken to the River Falls police department and each given a $187 citation for retail theft. Brown was also given a no trespass notice for ShopKo.

Retail theft, resisting/obstructing an officer

On Saturday, Dec. 23, River Falls police were sent to ShopKo, 1777 Paulson Road, for a report of shoplifting by Micheal Liegh Barthel, 38, Isanti, Minnesota and Amy Lynn Morris, 42, St. Paul, Minnesota.

Barthel and Morris were seen on camera mostly staying separated in the store, meeting up at random points, talking for a few moments, and separating again. Morris was allegedly seen taking several items of clothing with her into the changing room while carrying a very large purse. She only brought one clothing item back out with her. ShopKo staff found no clothes or tags in the changing room stall Morris had used.

Police allege Barthel seen concealing electronic items in a blue tote he placed in his cart.

Morris allegedly checked out and left the store. Barthel continued walking around the store.

A vehicle pulled up to the front of the store. It later moved to a different location.

Barthel then removed a bulky jacket he was wearing and put it over the blue tote, picked up the tote with the jacket covering it, and walked toward the front of the store, past the security sensors, which activated and out the front doors. Police officers ran out of the security office after Barthel, yelling "Stop, police!" Barthel turned around, and "took off running."

After being warned to stop or be tased, he dropped the tote and his jacket and continued to run a few more feet before stopping, turning around ,and moving his hands toward his waist. At this point police grabbed him and "assisted him to the ground."

He was handcuffed with his hands behind his back. Shopko loss prevention staff took custody of the blue tote.

Meanwhile, Morris was seen on closed circuit TV looking throughout the store for Barthel. Shopko loss prevention staff asked to speak with Morris in the loss prevention office.

Morris allegedly told loss prevention staff and police that the man she was with was named "Dom" and she didn't know where he was.

She agreed to allow police to search her vehicle for stolen items. She then walked around the parking lot, seeming "confused" as to where the vehicle was. She told police that she believed Barthel had come out of the store and driven away with the vehicle. Police told her that as Barthel was in police custody, the vehicle was still in the parking lot. Morris then walked over to a vehicle registered to Barthel's father,and opened the door.Morris's purse was found in the trunk of the car. Several items with tags on them were found in the purse, which she had taken without paying for.

The items in the tote added up to $765.22. The items Morris had in her possession added up to $125.42.

Morris was taken to the River Falls Police Department. In an interview, she admitted she had gone to Shopko with the intention of stealing before she arrived, and that she believed Barthel planned to steal as well as she knew he didn't have money. She said he wanted Christmas presents for his kids. She told officers she and Barthel communicated via texts while in the store. She said she told Barthel when she was in the vehicle to leave whatever items he had and just come outside. Morris allegedly told police she didn't want to have any part in what Barthel was doing.

Police asked what she and Barthel spoke about when they met up at different times in the store, and if she'd asked him to take certain items for her. She said she had not.

When asked why Barthel had "feminine products" in his possession, Morris said she didn't know.

Barthel, who had said he was in pain, was taken to the police department for an interview after he was medically cleared. During the interview, Barthel was upset and cried several times.

He told police he believed coming to a smaller town would make it easier to get away with stealing. He said he just wanted his kids to have a good Christmas. He said he ran when the police said "Stop, police" because he was scared.

Barthel also told police he had taken clothing items from thrift stores before but never electronic items worth as much money as the items stolen in this incident. Barthel was taken to St. Croix County Jail and booked on felony retail theft, resisting and obstructing, and issued a no trespass notice for Shopko.

Morris was issued a no trespass notice, fingerprinted and photographed; charges were forwarded for misdemeanor retail theft to the district attorney's office.

Morris was released.

Public urination

Paul James Wilson, 47, River Falls, was cited $124 for public urination at 2:29 a.m. Sunday, Dec 24 after police saw him urinating next to a dumpster in Riverwalk Alley. He allegedly told police "I wasn't urinating. I was spitting." Police saw a large pool of liquid next to the dumpster. Wilson was also overheard telling a friend who walked up "I was caught urinating."

Failure to yield right of way

Olaf Greg Nelson, 18, Maiden Rock, was was cited $98.80 for failure to yield the right of way at a traffic control light at 3:24 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 26 after being involved in a two-vehicle crash. Nelson allegedly told police he was traveling northbound on Main Street and turned left on Walnut Street. While turning, his vehicle was struck by another vehicle driving south on Main Street. Nelson claimed he had a green light with a green turn arrow.

The other driver, a passenger in the other driver's vehicle, a pedestrian who was at the corner of the intersection and a driver of the vehicle behind the defendant all said there was not a green turn arrow, but just a green light for north and southbound traffic.

Gretta Stark

Gretta Stark has been a reporter for the River Falls Journal since July of 2013. She previously worked as a reporter for the New Richmond News from June 2012 to July 2013. She holds a BA in Print and Electronic Media from Wartburg College.

(651) 301-7849