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Starbuck teen's autopsy shows drug use; friend to be charged with hiding body


The cause of death of a teenager found in a farm field near Alexandria in October has been listed as "undetermined," but traces of drugs were found in her system.

The Douglas County Attorney said Tuesday a man who has admitted injecting methamphetamine with 18-year-old Laura Schwendemann will be prosecuted for hiding her body, but authorities said there is not enough evidence for a homicide charge.

The report issued by a medical examiner in Anoka County  could not confirm a definite cause of death for Schwendemann, the University of Minnesota-Morris student whose body was discovered in an Orange Township field on Oct. 26.

However, the examiner did find traces of methamphetamine and cannabinoids in her body, which was listed as a "significant condition" in her death.

County Attorney Chad Larson said in his statement Tuesday evening that a 21-year-old man from Starbuck told investigators he and Schwendemann were injecting meth as they drove around the county on the night of Oct 14.

Larson said the man first told authorities he'd blacked out that night and could not remember what happened but later admitted to panicking after Schwendemann overdosed and said he hid her body in the cornfield.

Concealing a body is a gross misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail, the Alexandria Echo Press reports, and Larson tells the newspaper he will lobby the Legislature to stiffen that penalty, which he calls "woefully inadequate."

Schwendemann was last seen at a gas station in Alexandria on Oct. 14. For 12 days, investigators asked the public for tips as they combed west central Minnesota for clues to her whereabouts.

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