MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Two of the self-dubbed ghost hunters accused of breaking into a historic Litchfield church in May have pleaded guilty to criminal damage to property.
Court officials say 25-year-old Joseph Porter of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, entered the petition Tuesday afternoon and that his sentencing has been set for Sept. 9. Twenty-three-year-old Kyle Huber, of Victoria, entered the petition Wednesday morning. His sentencing is set for Sept. 21.
Huber was also charged with second-degree burglary. Court officials say that a plea agreement reached with prosecutors would dismiss this as long as the judge accepts the plea.
Porter, Huber and 23-year-old Todd Suurmeyer of Sioux Falls are accused of breaking into Ness Church on May 17 and damaging a monument. A fourth person, 24-year-old Brittani Roberts, of Sioux Falls, was also arrested in the incident but subsequently released.
The suspects are accused of breaking windows to get into the church, which is near a burial site that played a key role in the 1862 U.S.-Dakota War. The area has been the target of vandals for years, and ghost enthusiasts say it is haunted. Below is a video of alleged ghost sightings, shot by other ghost hunters. (Warning: The video contains strong language.)
Church board members, however, say there are no ghosts there – just a burial site and buildings. They say they regularly give tours to show there is no paranormal activity.
"People lived here all of their lives — went to this church all of their lives — and have never seen any signs of ghosts," church board member David Larson said following the break-in.
Along with breaking into the church, the suspects are accused of smashing part of a monument that marks where the first five of an eventual 490 war victims were buried.
Suurmeyer has a hearing scheduled for August. And Roberts has not been charged, although her case remains under review.
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