BY GABE LICHT
WRIGHT COUNTY, MN The victim of an assault at Crow Springs County Park passed away Saturday, and three individuals have been arrested in connection with her death.
Cheyenne Lee Clough, 19, of Buffalo, was found unresponsive at the entrance of the park, located south of Buffalo, Wednesday morning. She was transported to Buffalo Hospital and airlifted to North Memorial Hospital, where she later died. The Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office will be conducting an autopsy to determine the exact cause of death.
Authorities say she was assaulted late Tuesday evening or early Wednesday morning, and left to die at the park.
The Wright County Sheriff’s Office identified Justin Michael Jensen, 28, of Maple Lake, and Natasha Leanne Brandenburger, 33, of Buffalo, as persons of interest in connection with the incident.
Early Sunday morning, several agencies executed a search warrant at a residence near Pelland Junction in Koochiching County in northern Minnesota, and arrested Jensen and Brandenburger.
In a separate incident, a third suspect, Edward Victor Zelko, 26, of Buffalo, was taken into custody during a traffic stop in Staples. He is also being held in connection with Clough’s death. (A mug shot of Zelko was unavailable as of press time.)
Authorities have not said what roles these individuals may have played in connection with Clough’s death, but have said people associated with the drug community are involved in the investigation.
“This is still an active investigation involving multiple jurisdictions,” stated a Sunday afternoon press release from the sheriff’s office. “The Wright County Attorney’s Office will be reviewing the information and evidence obtained during the investigation to determine what level of charges will be brought.”
The sheriff’s office continues to seek the public’s assistance in locating the white or cream-colored 2008 Honda Accord that Jensen and Brandenburger were driving. The vehicle was last seen with Minnesota license plates 307 LCX on it. Anyone with information about that vehicle is encouraged to call the sheriff’s office at (763) 682-1162, call the anonymous tip line at (763) 682-7733, or submit the information at www.crimestoppersmn.org.
Captain Todd Hoffman said Clough was last seen early Tuesday afternoon at a residence in the 200 block of Birch Avenue Northwest in Maple Lake. She was assaulted and suffered life-threatening injuries between then and early Wednesday morning.
“At this time, we are operating under the understanding that it occurred at the park, but we are trying to figure out that time frame from late Tuesday afternoon to Wednesday morning,” Hoffman said during a Thursday afternoon news conference, also noting that authorities believe Clough knew her attackers.
Hoffman would not confirm if Clough had been shot or stabbed.
“There was visible trauma, but, at this time, we are withholding that information as to what the cause and the extent of those injuries were,” Hoffman said.
Regarding how Clough was discovered, Hoffman said two individuals reported finding a body at Crow Springs County Park.
“One of them was a bus driver who was picking up a student,” Hoffman said. “The student reported seeing a body in the drive(way) to Crow Springs Park . . . The bus driver did verify that there was, in fact, a body there, and relayed that information to their communication center, who called 911.”
Hoffman added that parents were notified immediately about that incident.
Support for Clough’s family
A gofundme page titled “Home going Service for Cheyenne” has been established.
“My family asks for everyone’s prayers in this extremely hard time,” Clough’s sister wrote in the description of the page. “My sister, Cheyenne, was young, and was still finding her way in life. She held her family and friends close to her heart, and was always there when anyone needed her. She has a 3-year-old son named Elijah who loved her more than anything. All donations will go to Elijah; anything will help.”
As of Sunday afternoon, the page had been shared about 1,400 times, and more than $2,000 had been raised.