Man who ditched teenager's body in cornfield is sentenced


A man accused of dumping the body of Laura Schwendemann in a rural cornfield after she became unresponsive, leading to a 12-day search for the missing teenager's body, was sentenced Thursday.

Nickolas McArdell, 21, of Starbuck, was charged in December with interference with a dead body in connection with the 18-year-old Schwendemann's disappearance last fall.

Forum News Service says he was sentenced to a year in jail after pleading guilty – the maximum sentence allowed under Minnesota law – and will have to pay nearly $3,000 in restitution and fees.

He'll get some credit for time served, the Star Tribune reports.


Schwendemann, a college freshman at the time, disappeared in October and became the subject of an intense 12-day search in west central Minnesota. Her body was discovered in an Orange Township cornfield on Oct. 26.

According to the charges filed against McArdell, he told authorities they ingested drugs on the night she was last seen, and eventually he noticed she was unresponsive. He then left her body in the cornfield and drove away, the complaint says.

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

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

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