Duluth rape suspect was free on bail in stalking case
The Duluth man accused this week of raping an Iron Range woman had spent two months in the St. Louis County Jail this spring after being accused of stalking six female joggers and walkers in Duluth.
Michael Daniel Arnold, 26, is charged with two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, third-degree assault, terroristic threats and introduction of contraband (drugs) into a jail, lockup or prison facility.
According to the criminal complaint in the Iron Range case:
A 21-year-old woman walked into Virginia Regional Medical Center at 4:42 a.m. Saturday and reported that she had been beaten and raped somewhere between Tower and Ely. She said her male assailant had dropped her off two blocks from the hospital.
The victim told a St. Louis County sheriff's investigator that she consumed some alcoholic beverages at a Virginia bar and then got into a white-colored vehicle with a man to have a marijuana transaction.
She said she was either buying the marijuana from him or he was buying it from her.
She said the man stopped at a farmstead between Tower and Ely and dragged her by an ankle into a field. He punched, kicked and strangled her while threatening to kill her, the complaint alleges. He then brutally sexually assaulted her. She suffered cuts and bruises to her face.
A witness told the sheriff's investigator that he saw Arnold between 4:45 a.m. and 5 a.m. Saturday and saw what he thought was blood on the defendant's front upper right area of his pants.
Sheriff's deputies found Arnold and his white Chrysler in the Duluth area abut 12:10 p.m. Saturday. What appeared to be blood spatter was found on the driver's seat area, and Arnold had a small cut on one of his hands. The defendant also had scratch marks on his back, which he said were from a cat.
A search warrant was executed and a DNA sample and clothing were taken from Arnold. A small plastic baggie of marijuana as found on Arnold in his genital area.
In the Duluth case, Arnold was charged in April with six counts of harassment or stalking by following or pursuing. The incidents are alleged to have occurred on Skyline Parkway and in the area of Kenwood and the University of Minnesota Duluth. He was scheduled to have a plea hearing in that case and two theft cases on Nov. 1.
Under the Minnesota Rules of Criminal Procedure, factors to be considered in releasing a defendant from custody include: the nature and circumstances of the offense charged, the weight of the evidence against the accused, the accused's family ties, employment, financial resources, character, mental condition, criminal record and public safety.
An Arrowhead Regional Corrections probation officer rejected Arnold for supervised release on April 20. The defendant's bail was set at $30,000. According to court and jail records, Arnold spent almost two months in jail before posting bail through a bail bonding company on June 19.
Judge James Florey set Arnold's bail at $150,000 after this week's allegation. The defendant is again being held in the St. Louis County Jail. His next court appearance is scheduled for Oct. 18.
Court records indicate that Arnold was convicted of first-degree assault in Pine County in 2003. He had his seven-year prison sentence stayed for 20 years of probation.
According to the criminal complaint in the stalking case:
A woman reported to Duluth police that she saw a white, smaller, older car driving slowly along East Skyline Parkway behind a female jogger on March 29 about 2:45 p.m. Instead of passing the jogger, the white car stayed behind her. The woman said that as the white car passed in front of her house she could see the driver was partially nude and he appeared to be fondling himself. The woman reported seeing the vehicle about three times the previous week when numerous female joggers were also using the road. One of those joggers gave police a description of the vehicle and the man who appeared to be stalking joggers.
A police patrol spotted the suspect vehicle within
20 minutes of getting the report. Arnold was stopped at 19th Avenue East and Lawn Street. He consented to an officer taking his photograph and a photograph of his vehicle. As officers talked to Arnold, a woman approached and told officers that she recognized the man they were talking to as a man who had followed her around while she was walking in the neighborhood.
She said the defendant had parked in front of her parents' house on West Kent Road and she went inside because the defendant "was acting very creepy,'' the complaint alleges without elaboration.
The woman said that Arnold also had harassed a female friend of hers, who committed to memory the Minnesota license plate 384-AUZ. A man reported to UMD police earlier the same day that a vehicle with that same plate had harassed his wife while she was cleaning the car outside her home.
Another woman told a police officer that she had been walking her dog on Skyline between 19th Avenue East and Kenwood Avenue March 28 when a vehicle pulled alongside driving very slowly. Another woman said she was on a run March 31 when she noticed a man following her around Chester Park in a white car. She said he followed her for 45 minutes and she became very frightened. She eventually ran to a restaurant to get away from him.
According to the criminal complaint, some of the women were able to identify the man -- or the vehicle he was driving -- from police photographs.
On April 2, two Duluth police investigators went to Arnold's place of business and took him into custody. He admitted to following females in his vehicle in an attempt to look at them from behind, the complaint alleges. He said he recalled an incident in the area of Chester Park where he appeared to scare a female who started to wave down passing vehicles.