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Nimrod fugitive arrested in Wadena

by Steve Schulz, Editor

and Anna Erickson,

Staff Writer

Though he was threatened with an assault rifle and beaten with a baseball bat, Richard Earl Hansen said he's not the real victim -- his father and stepmother are.

That assertion came just a few days after a violent episode and a game of cat-and-mouse with the cops that ended in the arrest of four people, including a man wanted in three counties, Danny Hansen.

Prosecutors and law enforcement officials herald the arrests as catching a "very dangerous man" just before he could flee to California. The Hansen family thinks authorities were heavy-handed.

Richard Earl Hansen said Danny's pattern of intimidation kept his father and stepmother from complying with the law, and they should be cleared.

It all started two weeks ago tonight in Nimrod.

Thursday, May 31

Danny Hansen was drinking heavily all day, said brother Richard Earl Hansen. There might have also been drugs in the house, said Richard Leroy Hansen, Danny's and Richard Earl's father (we'll refer to them as Richard Sr. and Richard Jr. for simplicity's sake for the rest of this story.)

Richard Jr. said Danny was "starting to get real obnoxious" as Danny's girlfriend, Robin Peterson, took Richard Jr.'s car to Motley.

"Danny was just totally miserable," said Richard Jr., "and misery loves company. So he was trying to irritate me."

A quarrel over shutting a back door escalated. Danny went in the back of the house and retrieved an AK-47 replica assault rifle.

"Danny said, 'You want a fight, bring it on," Richard Jr. recalled.

As Richard Jr. dialed 9-1-1, Richard Sr. calmed Danny down and took the gun. Richard Jr. hung up the phone after it rang once. The dispatcher called back. Richard Sr. assured the dispatcher everything was OK.

Danny left to pick Robin up, who had run out of gas.

The police came, looking for Danny, but missed him. When they left, Danny and Robin returned, and Richard Jr. started questioning Robin about where his car was. He followed her outside.

"I started running after her," Richard Jr. said. "I never seen it coming. All of a sudden, bam, I got hit in the back of the head with a baseball bat."

"I was under attack," he said. He compared it to "the shower scene from 'Psycho.'"

After the fight, Danny fled with his son, Richard said. The police soon returned, and tried to find Danny, with no luck.

Tired, Richard Sr. and his wife, Judy Hansen, went to Judy's father's apartment at Fair Oaks to spend the night, Richard Jr. said. Danny was still on the lam.

Friday, June 1

Authorities from the Wadena County Sheriff's Department were adamant the Hansen family help locate Danny, who had active arrest warrants from three counties: Morrison, Todd and Wadena.

The warrants stemmed from charges ranging from possession of a sawed-off shotgun and the use of juveniles in sexual acts and sexual performances, said Wadena County Attorney Kyra Ladd, to "running over a bobcat," according to Danny's brother (see sidebar for charges).

Investigators believed after the assault of his brother had been added to the list, Danny would flee.

"We figured they were setting up to go to Sacramento (Calif.)," said Eric Sonnenburg, a Wadena County sheriff's deputy.

Wadena County Chief Deputy Bill Cross had spent part of the morning on the phone with Richard Sr., who said he didn't know where Danny was, but pointed police to either Verndale or Staples.

After the two spoke via cell phone that morning, sheriff's deputies moved in. Danny wasn't in Verndale or Staples -- he was right there at Fair Oaks apartments with Richard Sr., Judy and Robin.

"The information we got was that they were going to split town," said Sheriff Michael Carr.

All four were arrested. All of the vehicles at the scene were confiscated. A total of $2,500 in cash was seized. Danny would have to face his warrants. Everyone else was charged with helping him elude capture. They face aiding and abetting charges, which are felony-level.

"If somebody helps somebody on the front end of a crime or the back end of the crime, they have criminal liability just the same as if they committed the actual crime themselves," Ladd said.

Different stories

Richard Sr. and Judy Hansen acknowledge they were questioned at least twice by authorities about Danny's whereabouts. But they said at those times, they didn't know where Danny was. They said they have receipts proving Danny stayed in hotels around Minnesota.

"Danny is a good kid," said Richard Sr. as he showed off custom bicycles his son built.

When asked if Danny belonged in jail, father and son disagreed.

"Yes," said Richard Jr.

"No," said Richard Sr.

Richard Sr. said Danny hadn't made his court appearances because the three counties where he was wanted had expected him to be in more than one place at a time.

The sheriff said that wasn't an excuse for showing up to none.

"Just turn yourself in somewhere," Carr said.

Richard Jr. has an explanation for why Richard Sr. and Judy Hansen never turned Danny in.

"Danny was a very abusive person -- and demanding," Richard Jr. said.

He added the two were afraid of Danny, so they wouldn't turn him in, and also said Richard Sr. has a failing memory, making him forget his legal obligation to turn his son in.

Asked if he could, ever, turn his son in to authorities, Richard Sr. said "you bet I could." But he denied his memory is faulty.

Richard Jr. said his father and stepmother were physically intimidated and abused by Danny, a charge Richard Sr. denied. Judy Hansen, however, admitted Danny had hit her in the past.

Richard Sr. offered no explanation for failing to turn his son in. His complaint is mostly with the sheriff's department's seizure of property.

'We're sitting here with $5.65 and a house'

Richard Sr. and Judy Hansen, who posted bail and were released, said they are now prisoners in their own home. They pointed to health problems each has had, such as Richard Sr.'s heart attacks, which require medication. They complain they can't even get to town to buy medication.

The two said all of their vehicles were seized, including one that belongs to Judy's father. For now, Richard Jr., who lives in the Twin Cities, said he could stay around and shuttle them to town for their meds.

Authorities also seized $2,500 in cash, which they said was going to be used to help Danny get to California.

Richard Sr. and Judy Hansen denied that. They said the money was left over from the sale of a motor home, and they were using it to pay bills and other expenses. They could have never afforded to hand that cash over to Danny, they said. Now, they said, they have nothing.

"We're sitting here with $5.65 and a house," Judy said. "We weren't giving him no $2,500! We have to buy groceries and pay bills."

But Ladd said the reason the vehicles and money were seized is they were being employed to actively help Danny escape. By confiscating them, it reduces the ability of the rest of the Hansen family to aid Danny.

"The problem here is somebody like Dan Hansen, who is a danger to the public, becomes more dangerous when people around him protect him and sort of keep him undercover from law enforcement," Ladd said.

Danny Hansen was transferred to Morrison County Jail to face charges there. Ladd said he has forfeited tens of thousands in bail money posted there in the past to secure his release. Robin Peterson remains jailed in Wadena. Their son has been put in foster care. Richard Sr. and Judy Hansen were waiting for the appointment of a public defender before facing their own charges of aiding and abetting.

The people, the charges


Current charges, filed in Wadena County:

• Second degree assault, dangerous weapon, substantial bodily harm, felony

• Second degree assault, dangerous weapon, felony

• Domestic assault, firearms, used in any way during assault on family/household member, gross misdemeanor

• Contributes to the need for child protection or services, gross misdemeanor.

Previous charge in Wadena County, on Dec. 6, 2005:

• Machine guns and short-barreled shotguns, felony. Active arrest warrant.

Charges in other counties:

• Morrison County, several felonies, including criminal sexual conduct in third degree. Active arrest warrant.

• Todd County, felony burglary. Active arrest warrant.


Daniel Lee Hansen's father

Current charges, filed in Wadena County:

• Aiding an offender -- accomplice after the fact, felony.

• Aiding an offender -- accomplice after the fact, felony.

• Aiding an offender to avoid arrest -- harbor/conceal, felony.


Daniel Lee Hansen's stepmother

Current charges, filed in Wadena County:

• Aiding an offender -- accomplice after the fact, felony.

• Aiding an offender -- accomplice after the fact, felony.

• Aiding an offender to avoid arrest -- harbor/conceal, felony.


Daniel Lee Hansen's girlfriend

Current charges, filed in Wadena County:

• Aiding an offender -- accomplice after the fact, felony.

• Aiding an offender -- accomplice after the fact, felony.

• Endanger child -- situation could cause harm or death, gross misdemeanor.

• Contributes to the need for child protection or services, gross misdemeanor.