Saturday, February 4th, 2023
Saturday, February 4th, 2023

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Death closes state park

Associate Editor

Luverne, Minn. A state park in southwest Minnesota is expected
to be closed through the Memorial Day Weekend as officials
investigate the death of a park worker there on Sunday.

A 20-year-old Luverne woman, Carrie Christine Nelson, was found
dead by a fellow employee at Blue Mounds State Park on Sunday
afternoon. Autopsy results indicate she died from multi-traumatic
injuries to the head due to assault.

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, the DNR, the
Minnesota State Patrol, and the Rock County Sheriff’s Department
are investigating the death as a homicide. The apparent motive was
robbery.

Rock County authorities now are seeking information regarding
two bank “money bags” believed to have been taken from the park
office where Nelson was working at the time of her death. The bags
are gray and bear the logo, “Minnwest Bank.” Anyone with
information regarding bags that match this description should
contact the Rock County Sheriff’s Dept. at this line: (507)
283-1301.

The death was the first time a park employee had been killed on
duty in the 110-year history of the state park system, said Bill
Morrissey, director of the DNR Division of Parks and
Recreation.

“We want to remind our employees and visitors that this is an
isolated, senseless incident and that employee and visitor safety
continues to be of critical importance to us,” he said. “We have
had effective safety measures in place throughout our history.
Unfortunately, we appear to be no more immune to these senseless
acts than other public places in our communities.”

Dennis Stauffer, communications director for the DNR, said the
incident would prompt the department to examine its security
systems for employees and park visitors.

“When something like this happens, everything gets looked at,”
he said.

Terry Vajgrt, assistant Rock County attorney, said on Tuesday
there were no suspects in the case.

Nelson graduated two years ago from Luverne High School. She had
been attending college in South Dakota, sources say.

“Carrie Nelson was a well-liked, hard-working employee who had
worked at Blue Mounds for two years as a part-time, seasonal
worker,” Morrissey said.

“Our heart goes out to the family and the community for their
loss,” added DNR Commissioner Allen Garber. “We are doing
everything we can to assist enforcement officials in this
case.”

Vajgrt said the last homicide in Rock County occurred more than
15 years ago.

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