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Cass Lake man charged with attempted first-degree murder

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CASS LAKE — A 24-year-old Cass Lake man was charged with attempted first-degree murder Friday after he attempted to kill another Cass Lake man at his home, reported Cass County attorney Christopher Strandlie.

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The man, John Ernest Lutgen, also was charged with first-degree burglary and second-degree assault.

Strandlie reported that officers were dispatched to a residence near Cass Lake at 4:40 a.m. Friday.

According to the criminal complaint, officers learned that Lutgen had entered a home and had attempted to kill an adult male who was sleeping at the time. Investigators learned that Lutgen has an apparent infatuation with the victim’s wife. Lutgen was outside the residence and had been communicating with the female via a social networking site. Lutgen told the wife that he believed the victim to be an unfit father and husband and asked for assistance in killing him.

The wife repeatedly told Lutgen to leave and she turned her phone off at 2 a.m. and went to sleep. She reported that she woke up at around 4:30 a.m. to find Lutgen standing in the bedroom staring at her. She immediately told him to leave and escorted him out the door. She also exited to retrieve a pet, at which point Lutgen ran back into the residence. She reentered and could hear what sounded like two pieces of wood being knocked together. She could also hear her husband screaming in the bedroom. She entered the bedroom and observed Lutgen repeatedly hitting her husband over the head with a piece of wood and kicking him. It was reported that she was able to physically remove Lutgen and her husband was able to get out of the room. Lutgen then fled out of a bedroom window.

Law enforcement apprehended him and he was booked into the Cass County Jail several hours later.

The husband was transported to an area hospital to be treated for a fractured skull and bleeding on the brain. The husband reported that as he was being assaulted, that Lutgen repeatedly yelled “Die!”

It was reported that Lutgen appeared to have entered the house by crawling through the pet access door.

Judge John Smith set bail at $500,000 with conditions. Lutgen’s next court appearance will be at 1 p.m. Dec. 27.

The victim, a 29-year-old Cass Lake man, was in stable condition in an Intensive Care Unit at a Fargo hospital, Cass County Sheriff Tom Burch said.

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Denton (Denny) Newman Jr.
I've worked at the Brainerd Dispatch with various duties since Dec. 7, 1983. Starting off as an Ad Designer and currently Director of Audience Development. The Dispatch has been an interesting and challenging place to work. I'm fortunate to have made many friends, both co-workers and customers.
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