A 34-year-old Ham Lake man suspected of numerous sexual assault crimes in Minneapolis was charged Monday in Hennepin County District Court with the first of what police say will be a series of charges.
Jory Wiebrand was arrested Friday in connection to an alarming number of crimes in which young women in the Dinkytown and Marcy-Holmes neighborhoods were targeted over several years.
The charges filed Monday – one count each of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and first-degree burglary related to an alleged sexual assault – are in connection to a crime that happened Aug. 7, 2019 at a home in the 700 block of 4th Street Southeast in Minneapolis.
A criminal complaint explains that a woman returned home from working late and after she got out of the shower around 4 a.m., walked into her bedroom and was attacked.
She was able to fight her attacker off despite being sexually assaulted and pepper-sprayed. After the attacker fled, she informed investigators that he was a white male in his 30s with a shortly trimmed, reddish-brown beard with acne scars on his face.
The only words her attacker said were: "I'm your worst nightmare."
She was examined at a hospital, having sustained multiple abrasions and contusions to her chest, back, knees, arms, eyes, and cheek, the complaint says.
DNA swabs taken from the victim eliminated 99.9992% and 99.99998% of the population, respectively, from being involved in the assault, but the samples did not eliminate Wiebrand.
Wiebrand is linked to nine other sexual assaults, assaults, and burglaries that happened between 2013 and 2020 in the same Minneapolis area and Anoka County, the criminal complaint states. More charges are expected in due time.
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said Monday that Wiebrand is also being charged with first-degree burglary and criminal predatory conduct in a June 2, 2019 break-in.
"These charges are the result of excellent police work by a number of agencies and we expect to file charges in additional cases soon," Freeman said. "Until last week, Mr. Wiebrand’s DNA was not on file with any police agency, so developing a fingerprint and getting a match from an earlier, unrelated arrest allowed police to identify him as a suspect and seek a search warrant to obtain his DNA.
"While we need to prove his guilt in court, if we are successful, we will seek an enhanced sentence so he will be unable to terrorize women for a long time."
Residents in the neighborhoods most commonly associated with the attacks were warned in March to stay aware of their surroundings, avoid walking alone and remain in areas with good lighting. Other recommendations made by police:
- Keep your cellphone charged and accessible.
- Find out how your phone can make an emergency call while still being locked.
- Switch up your route when walking home or to your car.
- Be aware when taking out your garbage or recycling.
- Keep your doors and windows lock.
- Lock your car doors while inside your vehicle.
"We want people to be aware of their surroundings, particularly when they're in parking lot areas, when they're going in and out of their cars, when they're taking out their garbage and being around dumpsters," said Minneapolis Deputy Chief Erick Fors.
"Areas that are somewhat secluded and are off the normal pathway, we want people to be aware of their surroundings when they're walking by themselves."