EMBARRASS- An Aurora woman and a homeless man are facing multiple criminal charges in connection with a break-in at an Embarrass greenhouse last week.St. Louis County Sheriff’s deputies and …
EMBARRASS- An Aurora woman and a homeless man are facing multiple criminal charges in connection with a break-in at an Embarrass greenhouse last week.
St. Louis County Sheriff’s deputies and Babbitt police were dispatched to the Early Frost Farms and Greenhouse about 9 p.m. last Wednesday, Sept. 28. They were responding to a report that motion activated alarms had been triggered, according to the criminal complaint.
“I’m in there several times a week because I’m growing trees for the Nature Conservancy,” owner Jack La Mar said. “I noticed there has been activity in there. I had a pretty crude security system, so I stepped it up. Wednesday night I responded to an alarm and called the sheriff’s department to meet me at the facility.”
After La Mar pointed out a broken ceiling tile on the floor and wires dangling from the ceiling that hadn’t been there when he left around 5 p.m., officers instructed him to remain outside as they commenced a search of the premises.
In the attached greenhouse north of the main building, officers found Sarah Marie Declusin, 29, of Aurora, lying underneath a low row of tables. They also discovered Matthew James Goodwin, 32, listed as homeless, lying on the other side of the tables.
Outside the north greenhouse, near where Declusin and Goodwin were discovered, deputies found a pile of wires, copper line, an old cash register, and other items under a black jacket.
According to the criminal complaint, Declusin and Goodwin both stated they were looking for Goodwin’s phone, which Goodwin claimed he had thrown at Declusin during an argument. Declusin and Goodwin were both in possession of cellphones when they were apprehended.
A shoe print consistent with the tread of Goodwin’s shoes was found on a ledge underneath the removed ceiling tile.
In addition to a yellow screwdriver and multiple keys in Declusin’s possession, a clear glass pipe containing white residue consistent with methamphetamine was found on the ground where she was discovered.
As officers attempted to load Declusin into a squad car for transport to the county jail, she physically resisted, kicking two of the officers before being subdued and secured.
Declusin and Goodwin were arraigned in St. Louis County District Court on Sept. 30.
Goodwin was charged with a single count of felony third-degree burglary. Court records indicate Goodwin has multiple prior convictions for misdemeanor theft and misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance.
The charges against Declusin were more extensive. In addition to felony third-degree burglary, her charges included possession of burglary or theft tools, fifth-degree possession of a controlled substance, fourth-degree assault on a police officer, and obstructing the legal process.
Declusin is currently facing second degree manslaughter and child endangerment charges in Kanabec County after her five-month-old baby died while in her care. According to that complaint, witnesses indicated Declusin had allegedly been drinking alcohol, using methamphetamine and valium before falling asleep on a couch with the child, who suffocated. The complaint also listed her residence at that time as Embarrass. Declusin has multiple prior convictions for possession of controlled substances.
The nature of the relationship between Goodwin and Declusin is unknown, but they were apparently living together in a Duluth apartment in early 2019 when their landlord filed eviction proceedings against them for nonpayment of rent, according to civil court records.
In an interview Tuesday with the Timberjay, La Mar said that there was far more damage to his property than what was specified in the court filings.
“There’s a significant amount of vandalism in terms of cutting wires and pulling fixtures off the wall just desperately trying to figure out how to circumvent the alarm system,” La Mar said. “All sorts of different circuits and phone wires and ethernet cables, all sorts of systems that I used for everything from phone lines to automatic watering systems.”
The impact on his current tree-growing project is “more of an annoyance,” La Mar said, noting that what watering there is to do before winter he can do by hand. The money generated from the trees that La Mar had hoped to put toward fixing up the already dilapidated building will now have to go first toward the extensive damage resulting from the burglary.
“Since closing (the retail greenhouse), we’ve had two of our gutter-connected bays collapse due to snow,” La Mar said. “It looks like, and trust me, I’ve heard plenty of comments, it looks abandoned, but it’s not. People think, looking at that greenhouse, ‘Oh, it’s dilapidated, it’s run down, I can just walk in there and it’s free pickings.’ If you don’t own the business, you have no business being in there, period.”
La Mar is also a member of the Embarrass Town Board, which gives him additional investment in addressing crime in the community, as he believes there are many vulnerable properties in the township.
“As a citizen, as a business owner, and as a member of local government, I’m very concerned about crime in our community,” he said. “I’m hoping that at the end of the day, you know, when this process goes through, and I will be able to partner with local law enforcement to put on classes or workshops or informal gatherings to share information with the township to educate people on how to better protect themselves from crime and loss.”
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