Man suspected of burglarizing at least one Bemidji business, possibly two
BEMIDJI -- A man with an extensive criminal history that includes an escape from a federal correctional facility is in custody for one burglary and has been questioned in another.
Darnell Dee Whitefeather, 31, is being held without bail at the Beltrami County Jail, an official there said Monday. He was charged with one count of third-degree burglary, a felony, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in jail, a $10,000 fine or both.
According to a criminal complaint filed by the Beltrami County Attorney’s Office, Whitefeather admitted to burglarizing Dunn Bros. coffee, 501 Paul Bunyan Dr. S, on Friday night.
Just before 11 p.m. Friday, police say Whitefeather threw a rock through two sets of doors to gain entry to the business. Once inside, Whitefeather allegedly ripped one of two cash registers from its mooring and left the business. The machine was found nearby next a bike path.
Ken Howe, owner of Dunn Bros., said the cash register was destroyed. The complaint stated that $200 was taken from the machine.
Howe said he’ll no longer keep cash -- representing the minimum amount of change necessary for the next day’s business -- in the cash registers.
“We’ve learned our lesson,” he said.
Police caught up with Whitefeather on Saturday morning at Peoples Church. There, Whitefeather was complaining of chest pains, according to the complaint, and “admitted that he had cash in his possession which had come from Dunn Bros.” He further told police that he had “acted as a lookout during the burglary, which he claimed had been perpetrated by a man named Jeremy,” the complaint stated.
Whitefeather was taken to Sanford Medical Center in Bemidji where he received treatment for his chest pains, before police took him into custody.
While being questioned about his alleged involvement in another burglary, which occurred overnight Thursday to Sunrise Natural Foods and Crafts, 802 Paul Bunyan Dr. S, Whitefeather admitted to the Dunn Brother’s heist, police said.
Howe said Dunn Bros. has never been burglarized in his eight years at the location, and Sarah Peterson, manager at Sunrise Foods, said it’s “been years” since that store has been broken into.
“I was just really upset,” she said when discovering the break-in Friday morning. A cash register, devoid of any currency, was damaged.
“I think they just got mad cause there wasn’t anything in it,” Peterson said.
Whitefeather has a criminal history that includes a 2002 conviction for assault and robbery, according to the complaint. He was sentenced to 92 months in prison for that crime, and was released in 2009. He violated probation, the release stated, and at some point escaped from a federal correctional facility -- a crime to which he eventually pleaded guilty.
Whitefeather also was convicted and placed on probation for assaulting the director of the Bemidji Community Behavior Health Hospital, where he had been taken due to “suspected mental illness,” the complaint stated. That crime occurred in January.
The burglary allegedly committed by Whitefeather on Friday night would make his second police-involved contact with Dunn Bros. this summer. In June, Whitefeather pleaded guilty to and was convicted of theft for stealing a bicycle belonging to an employee of the business. As a condition of his probation for that crime, he was to have no contact with the victim or the business.