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Charges filed in mailbox vandalism incidents

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Three men from Verndale are being charged with third degree damage to property and disorderly conduct in association with mailbox vandalism in Wadena County.

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December 11 through Jan. 15, more than 30 Wadena County mailboxes were vandalized. Four minors, as well as the three adults, were found to be involved in the incidents.

Court records state that around January 13, the Wadena County Sheriff's office received a call from a mother who said her son had information regarding mailbox vandalism that occurred close to her home. He said that on that previous Saturday evening, he observed three pick-up trucks with several individuals shining lights in the ditch, according to court documents. One of the pick-ups was a full size red Chevrolet with a loud exhaust.

Another report came into the Sheriff's office not long after the witness report about a juvenile bragging at a local school about "smashing mailboxes with a bat" and the use of "works bombs."

According to court records, information was also given from Verndale deputies that a child had been asked by a friend to play "mailbox baseball."

The friend was known to drive a green Saturn-type car. The vehicle's license plate number was traced to the residence of Tyler Dean Suhl, 18.

Court documents recount officers observing a baseball bat in plain sight in the backseat of the car with marring and indents visible. An airsoft pistol and container of pellets were visible as well. Also present at the address was a full-size red Chevrolet pick-up truck, which belonged to Matthew Allen Clews, 19.

Interviews were conducted shortly after at an area school, in which Suhl, Clews and John Daniel Houchin, 18, were all questioned.

Suhl at first denied having any involvement, but allegedly admitted to being a participant. He said the bat was in Clews' vehicle, court records said.

Authorities then met with Clews, who openly admitted to his involvement.

Houchin was interviewed at a later date, and also admitted to participating in an episode of vandalism.

It was mentioned that a black aluminum bat and a wooden bat were used, but the final whereabouts of the bats were unknown. The damage to all property totals over $790.

The trio's first court appearance will be on June 4.

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