Herald Journal / Enterprise Dispatch, Nov. 14, 2005
Charges filed in 1979 murder case
By Ryan Gueningsman
Three suspects, including a man from Winsted, are facing charges that stem from a murder that took place more than 25 years ago north of Montrose.
Dale Lawrence Todd, 45, of Winsted, Ronald Joseph Michaels, 51, of Blaine, and Terry Lynn Olson, 46, of Andover, are all facing charges regarding the incident.
Todd is charged with aiding and abetting, while Michaels and Olson both were charged with first-degree murder, among other charges. All three had a court appearance Thursday.
As of late last week, all three men remained in custody, with bail ranging from $500,000 to $750,000, according to the Wright County Attorney’s Office.
The charges stem from when Jeffrey Hammill, 21, was found dead in the early morning hours of Aug. 11, 1979 on Wright County Road 12 in Marysville Township. He was found face up, in a pool of blood, with blunt force wounds to his head.
Law enforcement believed there were witnesses still in the area and that physical evidence may still exist that could prove critical to the case.
Hammill, a machinist, was seen the evening of Aug. 10, 1979 at the Country West Bar in Rockford. It is believed that after the bar closed, Hammill rode with Olson and Todd to a residence in Montrose, according to a formal complaint.
While at the residence, a “scuffle” took place between Hammill and Olson, which resulted in Hammill leaving and starting to walk from Montrose to Buffalo on Wright County Road 12.
Todd, Olson, and Michaels allegedly left the residence shortly after Hammill left. According to Todd, Olson and Michaels were angry and were looking for Hammill, according to the complaint.
Todd stated Olson and Michaels were outside their vehicle, and he observed Olson hitting Hammill, and Michaels holding an unidentifiable object, according to the complaint. Todd also said when Olson and Michaels returned to the vehicle, Michaels was laughing, and Olson stated “he had just beaten up Jeff,” according to the complaint.
Olson gave a statement to authorities while at the Anoka County Jail Sept. 5 of this year. According to a fellow inmate, the encounter distressed Olson, who confessed to being at the scene of a murder.
According to the complaint, Olson told the inmate that he and Todd were present, but that he and Todd had not left the vehicle, implying that the other male (Michaels) was the one who killed Hammill.
Several years ago, at the request of Hammill’s daughter, the case was re-opened. Authorities said there was no single tip that led to the indictments. They began looking at the case again after the phone call from Hammill’s daughter, and a $50,000 reward was offered through the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension’s Spotlight on Crime.
A statement from Hammill’s family said they were gratified by the indictments.
Michaels has a Rule 8 hearing set for Monday, Nov, 28, and remains in custody in the Wright County Jail on $500,000 bail.
Olson has an omnibus hearing set for Monday, Dec. 12, and is currently being housed in the Sherburne County Jail, and remains in custody on $750,000 bail.
Todd also has an omnibus hearing set for Monday, Dec. 12, and remains in custody in the Wright County Jail on $500,000 bail.