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4 people face charges after man, woman beaten over meth money in Beltrami County

By Crystal Dey / Bemidji Pioneer

BEMIDJI, Minn. – Four people from Cass Lake have been arrested after allegedly kidnapping and beating two others in a meth-related incident in Beltrami County last weekend.

On Sunday, Beltrami County sheriff’s deputies began an investigation into a report of kidnapping, false imprisonment and assault at a Beltrami County residence. By the end of the day Tuesday, four people had been taken into custody.

Arrested were Robert Joseph Jones, 33; Darlene Marie Wind, 31; Joseph Harvey Bellanger, 31; and John Jacob White, 24.

They appeared Wednesday in Beltrami District Court on identical charges of two counts of felony kidnapping and two counts of felony false imprisonment. They face up to 20 years imprisonment and a $35,000 fine for each kidnapping charge and up to three years imprisonment and a $5,000 fine for each false imprisonment charge.

According to court documents, the two victims, a man and a woman, told deputies they were taken against their will and transported to a Roosevelt Road residence, where they were detained, beaten, terrorized and eventually driven to a secluded location where they were dumped out next to a lake.

The female victim told deputies the incident stemmed from methamphetamine use Friday. She said she told another woman she would be able to procure more methamphetamine and accepted $250 to do so. But she did not return with the drugs or the money, according to information in court documents.

On Saturday, the victim was confronted by White, Wind, Bellanger and Jones at Wind’s residence in Cass Lake, according to court documents. She told authorities she was put in a vehicle against her will and that her male friend was also in the car against his will.

At Wind’s residence, White, Bellanger, Jones and Wind duct-taped the two and repeatedly demanded the $250 over several hours, according to the report. The four co-defendants poured vodka down the victims’ throats and periodically assaulted and threatened them before dumping them out of a car next to a lake, she told authorities.

The male victim told authorities he was confronted by five people at the Palace Casino on Saturday and they demanded he take them to where the female victim could be found. His account of what happened at Wind’s residence was similar to the woman’s, according to court documents.

Sheriff’s deputies reported observing injuries consistent with an assault on the victims’ bodies.

Court documents say Jones confessed to assisting Bellanger and White in dragging the man into the bathroom where White and Bellanger repeatedly struck him. White confessed to his part in the duct-taping and threatening the victims, stating that Bellanger directed and planned the kidnapping and assaults. Wind confessed to being involved in the kidnapping and assaults and agreed to have her home used as the location for the false imprisonment and assaults, according to court documents. She also confessed to participating in the assaults.

Beltrami County Sheriff Phil Hodapp said his office was assisted by Leech Lake Tribal Police on the case, which remains under investigation.

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