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Photo shows Cass County Sheriff's Deputies at the JB's Welding Business in rural

Suspect in Huesmann murder has checkered past

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Suspect in Huesmann murder has checkered past
Brainerd MN 506 James St. / PO Box 974 56401

The second-degree intentional murder charges for the death of Mark Huesmann — is not the suspect’s first encounter with the law — but it is the most serious one.


Dane Joseph Riley, 28, Pine River, who also faces a charge of interference with a dead body, was sentenced to 80 months prison for felony first-degree assault, stemming from a March 18, 2006, stabbing of Shawn Lesher in Pine River. Lesher was treated for seven stab wounds, including five in the left side of his chest and he suffered a punctured lung and diaphragm, according to the 2006 criminal complaint.

During the same sentence, Riley also was ordered to serve 60 months prison concurrently for a felony felon in possession of a pistol or semi-automatic military assault weapon. Officers recovered an automatic rifle from the trunk of a car Riley had been driving in the Pine River area Sept. 13, 2005.

Riley also was sentenced in 2001 for felony terroristic threats-reckless disregard risk in Cass County District Court and was sentenced to five years of probation; and in 2002 was sentenced to a pronounced 36 months for second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon.

Cass County authorities didn’t have to go far to arrest Riley for the charges in Huesmann’s death as he was arrested July 20 by Cass County authorities. Cass County Attorney Christopher Strandlie said there was a warrant out for the arrest of Riley who had violated the conditions of his parole. Strandlie said when officers tried to arrest Riley he allegedly fled. Riley was caught, booked and then transported to Crow Wing County Jail on two counts of fleeing a peace officer in a motor vehicle and obstructing the legal process.

Unconditional bail for Riley was set at $1 million or $750,000 with conditions. Strandlie said he asked the judge for an “extremely high bail” amount as Riley is a huge flight risk and also is a public safety risk.

Riley’s next court date is at 1 p.m. Aug. 13.

Cass County Sheriff Tom Burch said Tuesday that the case continues to be under investigation. The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is assisting the sheriff’s office with the investigation.

Huesmann was last seen July 13 in the Pine River area and was reported missing on July 23. His remains were found June 24 in a shallow grave on the property of JB’s Welding and Repair in rural Pine River.

According to a criminal complaint filed Monday in Cass County District Court against Riley, who is also known as Dane Brogle:

➤ Investigation revealed that Huesmann had been at a party on Cass County Road 2 in rural Pine River during the late hours of July 13 and early hours of July 14. Huesmann had called Riley and asked him for a ride from the party. Riley had picked up Huesmann at the house sometime during the early morning hours of July 14.

➤ Phone records of Huesmann indicate that he used his phone last in an area west of a cell tower located north of Backus on Highway 371 during the early morning hours of July 14. The trailer where Riley resided was in close proximity to where the cell phone was used.

➤ A concerned citizen, near Riley’s residence, heard panicked screams and gunshots around 4:20 a.m. July 14 and reported it to authorities later that morning. After the gunshots, the witness heard a panicked male voice yelling several times. The witness later heard a female voice yelling, but could not make out what she was saying.

➤ Riley confirmed with investigators that he picked up Huesmann in the late evening hours of July 13. Riley said he thought he was driving his father’s truck when he picked up Huesmann at the party and stated that he has several vehicles available to him. Riley said he learned that Huesmann was missing after he returned from a job in North Dakota.

➤ On July 24, investigators responded to an area on Riley’s family’s property to a report of a fresh burn pile in a wooded area. The burn pile was located a quarter mile from the trailer home and officers observed burned and fire-damaged clothing and remnants of a tennis shoe. Some of the clothing items appeared to be women’s leggings or pants, similar to those reportedly worn by Riley’s girlfriend. A mud flap from a truck also was found.

➤ On July 24, investigators executed a search warrant and located the semi-automatic handgun under a mattress, a navy blue, zip hoodie that appeared to have blood splattered on it. About 100-150 yards away from the residence, officers found a red pick-up that appeared to have been hidden from view among some junk cars on the property. The mud flap found at the burn site appeared to have come off that truck and there was mud and grass on the truck. Blood appeared to have been on the driver and passenger sides of the truck. The front seats and the topper of the truck appeared to have been recently scrubbed.

➤ Officers observed vehicle tracks adjacent to a small pond on the property and about 30 yards from the pond, they discovered a path which appeared to have an inordinate amount of recent foot traffic. Along the path, officers recovered a size 10 tennis shoe stuck in the mud. Officers then discovered two areas that appeared to have been recently excavated.

➤ Investigators excavated the two areas and recovered human remains. The Ramsey County Medical Examiner confirmed that the remains were Huesmann’s.

➤ Riley’s girlfriend, in a subsequent interview, told officers that she had been awakened by the sound of two gunshots in the early morning hours of July 14. She subsequently went outside where she observed Huesmann on the ground with Riley on top, striking him in the chest area. She further stated that she could hear Huesmann begging Riley to stop and he kept telling him that he would not “tell anyone.” The girlfriend reported that she became hysterical and screamed. Riley ordered her back into the trailer. Riley entered the trailer a short time later and told her not to say anything about what she had seen.

JENNIFER STOCKINGER may be reached at or 855-5851. Follow me on Twitter at

Jennifer Stockinger
(218) 855-5851