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Predatory offender living in rural Brainerd neighborhood raises concerns

Questions on whether they could walk the trails alone or bike the neighborhood streets, as they have in the past, were among the concerns raised by residents Tuesday during a Level 3 community notification meeting held at the Crow Wing County Lan...

Cory Daniel Smith
Cory Smith

Questions on whether they could walk the trails alone or bike the neighborhood streets, as they have in the past, were among the concerns raised by residents Tuesday during a Level 3 community notification meeting held at the Crow Wing County Land Services Building in Brainerd.

Residents also said that they were not happy to receive late notice that the offender, Cory Daniel Smith, 38, was living in the vicinity of Sweet Road and Erin Road, south of Brainerd. The Minnesota Department of Corrections (DOC) notified the Crow Wing County Sheriff's Office on Sept. 24 that Smith was moving into the county. Smith moved in the neighborhood the same day.

The state requires a community notification meeting when Level 3 predatory offenders get out of prison. A Level 3 predatory offender is considered by the DOC most likely to re-offend. The sheriff's office, the supervising release agent and the DOC may not direct where the offender can or cannot reside, nor can the agencies direct him where to work or which school to attend.

Crow Wing County Sheriff Todd Dahl started off the meeting by apologizing to the audience for not giving enough advance notice that a Level 3 offender is living in their neighborhood. Dahl said the sheriff's office didn't receive notice from the DOC until the day the offender was moving to the rural Brainerd location.

"We're concerned about you and your safety and this is one of those things we don't have control over," Dahl said. "This is where he decided to live. ... A lot of you know how I operate and if I could control it we would not have any Level 3 offenders living in Crow Wing County."

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Sarah Hustad of the DOC and two of Smith's DOC probation agents, Carmen Goldsmith and Brian Maturi, who attended the meeting, also apologized to the neighbors on the late notice and said that Smith's situation is complicated. Smith served a 10-year sentence in North Dakota on one charge and was sentenced in Minnesota on Sept. 24 on another charge. The DOC has to follow the North Dakota guidelines.

"We were also frustrated as we are the ones who will be monitoring him," Maturi said of the late notice. "This is the first time this has happened since I have been an agent here. ... I don't have a great excuse for it. The judge can do what they want, he came up here and we've been scrambling ever since."

Neighbors, who wanted to remain anonymous, asked questions on what type of restrictions Smith has to follow, whether he could drive, if he has a job, who he is living with, how long he would be there and how long his GPS monitoring bracelet would be on. Parents, as well as a resident who owns a daycare, questioned whether Smith was allowed to be near children and they were concerned if he would be driving around the neighborhood.

Agents said Smith will be on intense supervision and will not be able to be on the Internet, purchase sexual materials, have alcohol and drugs or own a vehicle, among many other conditions. By state law, the DOC cannot release an exact address of a Level 3 offender or personal information.

"Please don't focus just on Smith," said Hustad. "There are offenders everywhere. Just be vigilant. Trust your gut. Call the police if you see something suspicious."

When neighbors asked if they should change their routine, such as running alone, the DOC representatives said no. They said people should always be aware of their surroundings, use caution and be safe, whether they have a Level 3 living in their neighborhood or not.

The agents said they would be doing random checking on Smith several times a week and the sheriff's office also said they would be doing extra patrol in the area.

Smith's criminal background

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Smith, who is 5-feet, 6-inches tall, weighs 139 pounds and has blue eyes and brown hair, has a history of attempted kidnapping and holding adult female victims against their will. He gained compliance through physical force and use of weapons. He was known and unknown to his victims.

According to the Minnesota court record website, Smith was sentenced Sept. 24 to 13 months in the St. Cloud prison for a felony kidnapping charge in Chisago County. The sentence was stayed for five years, releasing Smith from prison. If Smith violates any of the conditions of his release, he may go back to prison.

The Chisago County conviction was from an alleged kidnapping incident that occurred on Nov. 21, 1995 in the city of Wyoming. A woman gave Smith, a former coworker at McDonalds, a ride. She noticed Smith had pulled a gun and he demanded she drive him to the Twin Cities.

The woman reported that as she drove, she looked over at the gun, and it appeared to be made of plastic. She slowed the car and turned off the road. Smith grabbed the wheel and told her the weapon was loaded. The woman told Smith to get out of the car, which he eventually did. She also told him she was going to report the incident to police. Wyoming police searched for Smith in the area but were unable to locate him.

Smith also was convicted in North Dakota regarding an incident on June 18, 2004, for felony attempted kidnapping, aggravated assault and terrorizing charges. According to court documents quoted an ECM newspaper story, a woman was taking a cab home, which was driven by Smith. During the drive, Smith told the woman he wasn't feeling well and asked her to feel his forehead. She did, and Smith then grabbed her by the neck and put his left hand between the door and the car seat.

A struggle ensued, with Smith brandishing a knife and telling the woman, "This is not what you think it is," and if she kept struggling Smith would kill her.

Smith was also trying to restrain the woman's hands with zip ties, the story said.

The woman was able to reach over and honk the horn, which, along with her screaming, drew the attention of a nearby resident who called police.

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The woman continued to struggle with Smith, the two of them falling out of the car. The blade of the knife Smith was using got pinned under him and snapped.

At that point, an officer arrived, and Smith let go of the woman. The officer observed Smith and the woman on the ground, and the woman got up, ran toward the officer and shouted, "Help, me, help me. He tried to kill me. He has a knife," the court document said.

There are seven Level 3 predatory offenders living in Crow Wing County: Smith, Brandon Keith Churchill, Dennis Anthony Lee, Terrance Lee Lindmark, Joshua Paul Rinde, Christopher Robert Roehl and Joshua Chad Tromblay.

JENNIFER STOCKINGER may be reached at jennifer.stockinger@brainerddispatch.com or 855-5851. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jennewsgirl .

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