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Minn. man sentenced to 52 years for murder, kidnapping, sexual assault

Jacob Kinn

BEMIDJI, Minn.—A Bemidji man who kidnapped and raped a 5-year-old girl after killing the child's babysitter was sentenced to 52 years in prison Monday.

Jacob William Kinn, 33, pleaded guilty June 6 to three felonies: one count of second-degree unintentional murder, one count of kidnapping and one count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct with a person younger than 13.

As part of a plea deal Kinn's attorneys, public defenders Symon Schindler-Syme and Paul Thompson, agreed to a sentence much stricter than Minnesota guidelines call for. During his plea, Kinn admitted to four aggravating factors related to the murder of Melissa Sue Norby. Because he testified that he treated Norby, 35, with particular cruelty, mutilated her body, committed the murder in the presence of a child and caused additional harm to people who knew her, Ninth District Judge Shari Schluchter sentenced Kinn to 33 years in prison for the murder, double the guideline sentence.

Kinn also received a sentence of four years and eight months in prison for the kidnapping and 14 years and four months in prison for the sexual assault.

Schindler-Syme spoke with Kinn after the sentencing, and said his client accepted the plea deal and severe sentence because he wanted to take responsibility for his actions and put the matter behind him.

Kinn murdered Norby and kidnapped the child in June 2016, after planning a portion of the crime with Norby herself. Kinn and Norby had been in a sexual relationship for about a year before the murder and kidnapping.

According to Kinn's testimony, he and Norby had planned to kidnap the 5-year-old girl together. Norby—a friend of the girl's mother—picked up the child and brought her to her trailer home at Hillcrest Manor in Bemidji.

Kinn then went to the trailer and had sex with Norby. While the two were having sex, Kinn used a belt to choke Norby, eventually killing her. The child was in the trailer home's bedroom, just five feet away from the living room, where the murder took place.

Once Norby was dead, Kinn took the child to his home in Bemidji, restrained her, then returned to Norby's home and set it on fire. During Kinn's guilty plea, prosecutors said Norby had burns on 75 percent of her body when she was found.

Once he returned to his home, Kinn sexually assaulted the child, then went to work, leaving the 5-year-old tied up. Later that night, he took the girl to a pop-up camper near Bigfork, Minn., on land that belonged to his brother, where he left her.

After the girl's mother reported her missing, police identified Kinn and a person of interest, then found the child alive in the pop-up camper. An employee from the Family Advocacy Center of Northern Minnesota read a victim impact statement written by the girl's family in which they thanked law enforcement for finding the child.

"He tried to take her from us, but she will never be his," the statement said in part. "The strength that radiates from her is unbelievable ... we are so incredibly thankful."

The center employee also read a statement from the girl herself, in which she said she hated Kinn.

Schluchter determined that, once his time has been served, Kinn could be civilly committed. He will serve his sentences consecutively and will be eligible for supervised release after serving two-thirds of his sentence.

Grace Pastoor

Grace Pastoor covers crime, courts and social issues for the Bemidji Pioneer. Contact her at (218) 333-9796 or

(218) 333-9796