Skip to main content
Updated:
Original:

Charges: Stranger grabbed woman by her hair, tried to get her into a van

A witness heard the woman screaming.

A man who grabbed a woman by her hair and dragged her across a street toward a van is now charged.

Michael Grant Harker, 34, of Scandia, attempted to abduct a woman he didn't know in Willernie on April 20 around 8:30 p.m., Washington County Attorney Pete Orput said in a statement, and now he's being charged with two counts of kidnapping and one count of false imprisonment.

According to the criminal complaint:

The woman was standing near her vehicle not far from a Domino’s Pizza restaurant in Willernie when a man in a van drove by her slowly several times. The man then parked the van across the street, and walked towards her.

When he got to her, he grabbed her by the hair and dragged her across the street towards the white van. The man punched her in the head and attempted to push her into the vehicle.

The victim eventually got away from the van and ran across the street screaming, and a witness who heard the screams attempted to stop the van, but the suspect drove away. The incident was also captured on surveillance video.

The victim and the witness remembered three numbers from the van's license plate, which investigators used to narrow the search to find Harker, who had purchased the van three days prior.

Harker was on parole out of Idaho where he was convicted of felony strangulation and felony domestic assault. His initial charges also included sexual assault by forcible penetration and kidnapping.

“We are pleased that the victim was recovered on site and that no further harm came to her. Stranger abductions are among the most difficult cases to investigate, as we all know.” Chief Deputy Dan Starry said in a news release.

Stranger abductions aren't that common

It doesn't happen very often that someone is kidnapped by a stranger.

Most of the data out there is about strangers kidnapping kids, so let's start with that. A U.S. Justice Department report from last year said in 2011 there were an estimated 105 children who were victims of stereotypical kidnappings (when a person under 18 is taken by a stranger or a "slight acquaintance").

Victims were typically girls ages 12-17, and were kidnapped by a man aged 18-35, the report said.

Meanwhile, when looking at all missing persons cases that were entered into the FBI's database in 2016 (it includes kids and adults), 0.1 percent – that's 303 cases – were described as a person who was abducted by a stranger.

It's worth nothing that the option to categorize the circumstance of the missing person is optional – and in only 48.8 percent of cases was this filled out. So about half of these missing persons cases, there isn't an indication as to whether a stranger, known acquaintance or family member may have been involved.

And violent crimes committed by a stranger aren't that common in general. The Justice Department's statistics from 2010 show about 38 percent of all nonfatal violent crimes were committed by someone the victim did not know.

Next Up

940 Margaret St, St Paul, MN 55106, United States - May 2019 (1)

4-year-old girl struck by hit-and-run driver in St. Paul

The girl was struck by the driver around 5 p.m. Monday.

Minneapolis police

Baby found safe inside car that was stolen in south Minneapolis

The incident happened near 32nd Street and Chicago Avenue around 7 p.m.

Anthony Edwards

Ant puts on a show to help Timberwolves beat Pacers

A third-quarter surge gave the Timberwolves their seventh win in their past eight games.

Mikko Koivu

Wild to retire Mikko Koivu's No. 9 jersey

Koivu will be the first player in franchise history to have his number retired.

Boebert-Omar - Flickr Gage Skidmore

Rep. Boebert refuses to apologize for Islamophobic comment toward Rep. Omar

A phone call Monday between the two lawmakers ended abruptly.

Patrick Peterson

Vikings place Patrick Peterson on COVID-19/reserve list

The Vikings cornerback said he was vaccinated in August.

flickr - thin ice warning - USFWS Midwest

'Numerous' reports of eager anglers falling through ice

Conditions are still unpredictable, and can vary even across a single body of water.

covid

Minnesota health officials watching closely for omicron variant

Health leaders do not yet know how transmissible or severe the new variant is.

school bus stop pixabay

School bus driver charged in fatal hit-and-run will plead guilty

Another motorist told the driver to call 911, but he instead got on the bus and drove off, charges say.

Franconia Sculpture Park - Lorie Shaull - Flickr

5 outdoor destinations to explore around the Twin Cities

There's something for everyone on this list of overlooked spots.

Child mental health counseling

As pandemic continues, so do efforts to improve child mental health access

Children's Minnesota has announced it will open its first inpatient mental health facility for under 18s.

Dalvin Cook

Mixed reports on Dalvin Cook's injury status

The Vikings running back could miss two games...or he could play Sunday.

Related

Police are searching for a van after a sexual assault at gunpoint

The woman was walking to a restaurant when the masked man sexually assaulted her.

Gregory Allen Johnson

Charges: Man told woman to speak his language, struck her with van

The man's preliminary breath test was more than double the legal limit.

Stranger kidnaps woman from Aldi parking lot, tries to rape her

The suspect is a teenage male who was armed with a knife, police say.

Charges: Woman told Savanna Greywind how to induce labor, hoped to keep baby as her own

Savanna Greywind's neighbors are now charged after her body was found in the Red River.

pixabay-pain-pills

Charges: Cold Spring woman gave neighbor drugs that killed her

The 30-year-old woman is accused of giving her neighbor methadone and amphetamines, which killed her.