Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, April 14, 1997

Reward offered, more information released in assault of deputy

By MAGGIE SCHUETTE-VOSS

New information has been released and a reward is being offered in the case of the assault on McLeod County Sheriff's Deputy Tim Langenfeld, 22, of Winsted.

Officer Tom Guthrie of the sheriff's department announced the reward Friday at a press conference.

The reward is being offered through Crime Stoppers. Anyone with information can call 1-800-442-7463 or 1-612-452-7463.

Guthrie declined to give an exact figure, but said the reward is "substantial" and in four figures. It is for information leading to the arrest and charging of person(s) responsible for the assault on Langenfeld.

"We've had hundreds of leads," said McLeod County Chief Investigator Wayne Vinkemeier. "We are following up on them."

So far, the leads have not resulted in a arrest. Vinkemeier said the department encourages the public to continue to provide the department with information.

Langenfeld was assaulted on April 2 just before midnight when he stopped on McLeod Co. Rd. 7, about three miles north of Hutchinson, to assist what appeared to be a stranded motorist.

In the car was the driver, a passenger in the right front seat and a passenger in the rear seat.

The driver did not have a driver's license on him and was asked to step out of the car. The car also did not have a back license plate.

As Langenfeld and the driver stood between the two cars while speaking, Langenfeld was distracted by the right front seat passenger, when he got out of the vehicle.

Langenfeld was struck by the driver on the left side of his head with an unknown object, knocking him nearly unconscious.

According to Sheriff Duane Kopesky, the perpetrators fled in their vehicle. Langenfeld was able to radio the sheriff's office for assistance, before becoming unconscious, Kopesky said.

A Hutchinson police officer was quickly at the scene. Sheriff's department officials and emergency vehicles arrived soon thereafter, Kopesky said.

Vinkemeier estimated the time Langenfeld was alone after making the call was "less than a minute."

Langenfeld was transported to Hutchinson Community Hospital then airlifted to St. Paul Ramsey Hospital.

He was released Friday, April 4, but returned and was again airlifted St. Paul Ramsey on Sunday, April 6 after a relapse, Kopesky said.

Langenfeld is recovering at his parents' home. His mother, Judy Langenfeld, said he was released Tuesday afternoon and is "doing as well as can be expected."

Kopesky said the department's insurance is covering medical expenses and Langenfeld is on paid medical leave. When he is ready to return to work, the department will work with Langenfeld to make the transition back to the department as smooth as possible.

Judy Langenfeld said they do not know when that will be. "There is no time limit on how long things will take to heal. They just have to heal on their own," she said.

Junge said, so far, the only person suspected of perpetuating the assault is the driver. He encouraged the others in the car to come forward to the police. Junge said in order for the two passengers to be charged, they would have had to assist or encouraged the driver to make the assault.

For this type of crime, Junge said, the driver would likely be charged with second degree assault.

The minimum penalty is 30 months in prison, but the facts that Langenfeld was left and unconscious and the suspects fled the scene could result in a longer prison sentence.

The driver of the vehicle is described as a male Caucasian, approximately 18 to 27 years of age, approximately 5 foot 9 inches, stocky build, and weighing about 180 pounds. He had a rough, uneven growth of beard, a scar below his lower lip, and possibly brown color hair. He was wearing a dark baseball cap backwards. He had on bluejeans, a blue lightweight coat and a t-shirt.

The second male in the front passenger seat is described as a male Caucasian, approximately six feet tall, thin build, weighing between 150 and 175 pounds. He was in his early 20s, possibly wearing a flannel shirt and had light color hair.

New information on the second passenger has been released. He is described as a darker complected male, and appeared younger than rest, approximately 20 years old.

The car is described as a dark colored two-door automobile, possibly a Chevy Beretta. There was no license plate on the rear of the vehicle at the time. The car has a third brake light in the rear window, a sticker in the rear window area with lettering approximately two to three inches high, near the third brake light. It also had a bumper sticker on the left side of the rear bumper with yellow lettering.

Vinkemeier and Judy Langenfeld said the immediate and surrounding communities have been very supportive.

Vinkemeier said when Langenfeld was initially airlifted to St. Paul Ramsey, the helicopter landed at Homan Field and a St. Paul police escort was waiting.

"We've had people calling, asking what they can do to help. They've offered to (do a fundraiser) help with medical expenses," Vinkemeier said.

Judy Langenfeld said the family has received many calls and cards.

"Langenfeld did everything by the book as he should have," Kopesky said. "Because of his professionalism, it minimized the outcome of the situation."

Langenfeld has been with the McLeod County Sheriff's Department for one year. Prior to that he was an officer with the Winsted Police Department. He has been in law enforcement for two years, Kopesky said.

Anyone with additional information can call Crime Stoppers at the above number or the Sheriff's department at 320-395-2568, 320-864-3134, or the sheriff's confidential line at 320-864-4524.

This is a composite sketch of the suspect.

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