Morrison County Sheriff’s Department Investigation

Lack of Investigation related to Byron Smith Burglaries.

  1. October 27, 2012 Jamie Luberts was called to Smith home after a burglary occurred that day while he was in St. Cloud. A basement door had been kicked in to gain entry. A fingerprint was taken but never sent in for testing. Footprint/shoe print from door panel lay three feet from door but Mr. Smith brought it into the sheriff’s department to assist in catching thieves as Luberts missed it. Mr. Smith brought the door panel to the sheriff’s dept. at 6:30 p.m. on the following Monday. Mr. Smith waited 1-1/2 hours for Luberts to come in as he stated he would be “right in”. He never came. Luberts testified under oath in court that he had recovered the shoe print, but that is not accurate as HE did not recover it, Smith did.

    MN statute 611A.02, Subd 2b) “initial notice of rights of victims must be distributed by a peace officer to each victim at the time of the initial contact with victim”. None was ever given by Luberts.
  2. Approximately two weeks later (November 16) Luberts went to Smith home for follow-up. He was there for six minutes, received another call, fumbled with his radio and then said he received an “emergency” call within ½ minute and never came back. A neighbor saw him leave with his patrol lights activated. As the neighbor watched, Luberts turned the lights off once he was off the ramp and on Highway 10 going west.
  3. NO neighbors were ever interviewed or questioned to see if anyone had seen anything suspicious that day nor were they informed of the burglary which involved guns and totaled over $40,000 in one day. Plus, Luberts was informed by Smith that this was the known 5th burglary to same home.
  4. Sheriff Michel Wetzel

    Sheriff Michel Wetzel

    Jewelry and coins were sold at a pawn shop on St. Germaine in St. Cloud in 2012 for $510 by Rachel Brady, 18 year old sister of Nick Brady. The jewelry and coins were similar in description to a list of items stolen from Smith’s home. Friends of Smith visited the shop to try to retrieve the family heirlooms, but they had been resold. The shop owner stated that he was never told to return the items to law enforcement even after law enforcement may have suspected they were stolen from the Smith home. Furthermore, Rachel Brady has never been prosecuted for receiving/selling stolen property. Text messages between her and Kifer indicate Rachel Brady asked “what they got” from one of their (Nick Brady & Haile Kifer) home invasions. The county attorney states that “nothing has come across his desk” to prosecute her, but the text messages were part of the BCA’s evidence in the investigation.

    Sidenote: MN Statute 604.14, Subd 3 – Allows the victim to hold parents civilly liable for actual loss, plus 100% punitive.
  5. Byron Smith’s $6,000 NIKON camera w/lens stolen on October 27, 2012 was returned in 2014 after sitting in the Little Falls Police Dept. for two years. The camera card containing 175 photos of the thieves and their family members had never been checked or search warrant obtained by the sheriff. A police officer had retrieved it near the boat landing on the west side of town. An informant told him where to find it. There has been no felony prosecution to date for stealing or possessing a stolen $6,000 camera. (Camera body - $3,314 plus lens at approx. $3,000).
  6. One of the guns was found to be in possession of a teenager who is a relative to Michel Wetzel: His name is Chase Fortier. This teen was not prosecuted, nor were charges ever filed against him for receiving stolen property. When the county attorney’s office was questioned on this, it was said that there was not sufficient evidence to charge him, even though he was in possession of the weapon.
  7. Michel Wetzel told Bill Anderson, a neighbor of Smith, in a long conversation after the shootings in November of 2012 that his department “botched this one”, meaning the investigation of Smith’s burglaries. Sheriff Wetzel was paid well to be in charge of public safety. Isn’t a $42,000 burglary, which is the known fifth one to the same home with stolen guns, a huge public safety issue?

Does this sound like incompetence to you?

Let's Compare

Sheriff Wetzel labeled Byron Smith as a executioner in the media. Lets compare the incident involving Byron Smith and the incident involving Sheriff Wetzel.

Against two unknown attackers
Against well-known Gordon Wheeler
Person's Background No conflict training
No experience in self-defense
Full professional training
on "Disarm and Disable"
Resources Available Defective ranch rifle,
Target pistol, .22 caliber rimfire
Full Sheriff's department
Full Police department
Highway Patrol
National Guard, seven miles away
Risk of Defender They had already stolen Smith's guns Wetzel's quotes from the BCA Report:
"He (Wheeler) didn't have a gun."
"His gun was broken." (struck by a bullet)
Risk at the Time of Final Shots Attackers were face up
Attackers were able use their limbs
Attacker (Wheeler) was face down
Wheeler was shot five times in the back
Final Decision Factor Used what he could reach Deployed maximum lethality
Wetzel: "It was an execution" Smith had a half minute of warning Used twenty-four minutes to prepare
(could have taken more)
Wetzel: "He fired too many shots." Nine shots against two people
(mixed calibers)
Twenty shots against one man
(long rifle)

Who do you think is the executioner?