Friend of Laura Schwendemann charged with hiding her body

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A friend of Laura Schwendemann is now charged with hiding her body after she died.

Nickolas McArdell, 21, of Starbuck, was charged with interference with a dead body, a gross misdemeanor, a criminal complaint released Monday shows. If convicted, he could face up to one year in jail and a $3,000 fine.

According to the criminal complaint:

McArdell admitted to injecting methamphetamine and smoking marijuana with the 18-year-old Schwendemann and driving around Douglas County on Oct. 14 – the night she was last seen.

He initially told authorities he "blacked out" and couldn't remember what happened, but later admitted to driving around with Schwendemann, who began "freaking out" because he was "messing with her" by pretending they were being chased by police.

After calming her down two separate times, she began to breathe heavily. Shortly after that, he tried to get her attention, but she didn't respond. He then noticed she wasn't breathing and didn't have a pulse.

That's when McArdell says he drove three or four miles to a cornfield, had a cigarette, and put Schwendemann's body over his shoulder and carried her into the cornfield, where he left her body.

He then continued driving around. The next day he disposed of the hypodermic needles and pot pipe they had used in a gas station garbage can before contacting his meth supplier to purchase more drugs.

Schwendemann was the subject of an intense 12-day search in west central Minnesota. Her body was discovered in an Orange Township cornfield on Oct. 26.

A cause of death couldn't be confirmed, but the medical examiner did find traces of methamphetamine and cannabinoids in her body, which were listed as a "significant condition" in her death.

The Douglas County Attorney said earlier this month that McArdell would be prosecuted for hiding Schwendemann's body, but there wasn't enough evidence for a homicide charge.

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