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Man charged in 2017 killing of 71-year-old Hibbing woman

Officials matched his DNA with DNA found at the crime scene.
Blake Stangel

Blake Stangel

A 51-year-old man has been charged in connection to the 2017 killing of 71-year-old Courtney Fenske in Hibbing.

Blake Stangel was arrested on May 24 on unrelated charges and agreed to provide a DNA sample, which was found to match the DNA found at the crime scene in the Fenske case, the St. Louis County Sheriff's Office says

Fenske was found dead at her home on 11072 S Townline Road in Hibbing on Nov. 29, 2017, after her mail carrier noticed she hadn't picked up her mail since Nov. 25, which was unusual for her, a release says.

The St. Louis County Sheriff's Office then conducted a welfare check and found Fenske dead, noting she likely died between Nov. 26-27, 2017. An autopsy revealed she died of asphyxia due to ligature strangulation and smothering. 

According to the criminal complaint, Fenske's body was found with thermal cotton pants tied around her neck and covering her face and head, and her arms and waist were bound with rope and fabric. 

Investigators extracted DNA from the materials and Fenske's body, but a suspect was not initially located, the charges say. 

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On May 20 of this year, a detective with the Grand Rapids Police Department called investigators, saying a confidential informant said Stangel was involved in the death of an elderly Hibbing woman, the complaint says. Stangel had rented from Fenske in the past. 

Stangel was arrested on outstanding warrants and consented to provide a DNA sample, charges note. The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension on May 26 confirmed Stangel's DNA matched the DNA that was found on Fenske, the rope, and the other materials. 

Stangel was charged on May 27 with second-degree manslaughter and is being held on $100,000 bail. His next court appearance is June 10. 

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