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Duluth man on parole for murder is charged with kidnapping, sexual assault

He's accused of tackling the woman, tying her wrists and sexually assaulting her on a logging road in St. Louis County.
dennis hannuksela (1)

A man who was on parole for a 1987 murder is accused of kidnapping and sexually assaulting a woman in northern Minnesota last weekend. 

Dennis John Hannuksela, 62, of Duluth, is charged with two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and kidnapping in connection to the May 15 incident. 

Hannuksela spent nearly 30 years in prison after being convicted of murdering 65-year-old Arthur Nelson in 1987. Nelson's remains were discovered months later along a railroad track right of way in St. Louis County, court documents state

Hannuksela was paroled in August 2017 but was under intensive supervised release, the Duluth News Tribune says.

Hannuksela was arraigned on the new charges on Tuesday, at which time bail was set at $250,000, the paper says. Due to his supervised release status, Hannuksela will likely remain in custody. 

According to the criminal complaint, Hannuksela sexually assaulted the victim sometime after 1:30 a.m. on May 15 on a logging road north of U.S. Highway 53 and Swan Lake Road. 

The woman reported the rape to the hospital in Cloquet, prompting the St. Louis County Sheriff's Office's investigation. 

Charges say the victim had known Hannuksela for several years and considered him a father figure due to their 40-year age difference. 

The victim told investigators she and Hannuksela arranged to meet up after she was done working, the complaint states. She stopped home and Hannuksela picked her up, telling her he needed to dump a couch and then would drive her to Superior, Wisconsin, to meet her friends. 

They shared marijuana and when they got to the road off of Highway 53, they dumped the couch and drove a little way before they consumed more marijuana, charges say.

That's when Hannuksela got a strange look and lunged at her, the victim told investigators. She eventually was able to grab her purse and run from the vehicle, but he tackled her, put zip ties around her wrists and brought her back to the truck where he sexually assaulted her. 

Hannuksela eventually took her home and said he wanted to add her to his life insurance policy, charges say. The victim then went to the hospital, where she reported the assault.

In an interview with police, Hannuksela admitted he knows the victim and they would hang out on occasion, inferring she uses him for money, charges state. He denied having any type of sexual conduct with the victim.

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