By Jake Rossen
By Jesse Marx
By Michelle LeBow
By Alleen Brown
By Maggie LaMaack
By CP Staff
By Jesse Marx
But it had been two months since his initial conversation with police, and by then he'd disappeared. Gruenig says the Bates's family ties could mean he's still in the Minnesota area.
"We always worry about people who are violent and commit sexual acts," he says. "He ought to turn himself in. He needs to take care of this. It's not going to go away."
Dale Harry Batt
To all outside appearances, Dale Batt was a well-liked middle manager at a manufacturing plant in Dodge County. But his home was a strange and violent place.
"There's a lot of really weird stuff in that file," says deputy Scott Rose.
Dale would strangle his wife Jennifer until she blacked out, wait until she came to, and then strangle her again. He would smother her with pillows, punch her, stomp on her back, and even attempted to electrocute her with a lamp cord. In one incident, Dale cut her hands with a hedge trimmer. He repeatedly told Jennifer he was going to kill her.
Just before dawn on a cold November morning in 1998, Dale came after his wife again. He climbed on top of her and pushed a pillow into her face, then wrapped his hands around her neck. As she struggled to breathe, he punched her repeatedly in the face, bruising both eyes and cutting her nose.
The attack woke the couple's daughter, who became hysterical. Dale ordered Jennifer to calm her down. But after the girl came downstairs, Dale attacked Jennifer again, screaming at her to take their daughter and leave.
At wit's end, Jennifer fled the house and called the sheriff. Dale Batt was arrested; Jennifer filed for divorce.
Dale proved to be an even more alarming character in subsequent police interviews. He talked about his interest in bomb-making, his fascination with militias and his hatred of the government. He owned several guns, including an AK-47 assault rifle.
He admitted to police that he enjoyed working with poisons like potassium cyanide and liquid nicotine. One time, he said, he filled a syringe with a homemade poison, tied it to the end of a pole, then stuck the family dog. The animal became sick but didn't die, so Dale was forced to euthanize him.
Dale was convicted of assaulting his wife, but allowed to serve his five-year sentence at home, provided he relinquish his weapons and enter a domestic-violence program. Local law enforcement muttered that he'd gotten off light.
Dale never went to his court-ordered therapy. He made it clear he would go ghost before he'd adhere to any of the court orders. When a warrant was issued for his arrest in August of 2000, Dale made good on his promise.
"He walked away," says Rose. "He left his car and all his belongings there."
Since then, there have been two sightings, one in Dodge County and another in Minneapolis. Dale is a highly certified scuba diver and has contacts in Rochester and Cass Lake. He's believed to be living under an assumed name, possibly somewhere in Minnesota.
"Obviously he has no intention of going to prison, so we have to be very cautious," Rose says. "He's a very unpredictable guy."
Crushed into the backseat of a car, parked in a field miles away from where she wanted to be, a 14-year-old girl fought to keep her pants up.
Francisco Chapa, a baby-faced 19-year-old with a long black braid down the back of his head, was on top of her. Outside the car, three of his friends stood guard.
Chapa lived in a chaotic household in Blue Earth with his brothers and parents. Fifteen years later, Chief Dean Vereide of the Blue Earth Police can still recall the address of the family's duplex—long ago razed to the ground.
"He kept us busy in the '90s," he says. "He was what I would consider a career criminal, even back then—burglaries, thefts, drugs."
It had been an uneventful Saturday evening. The girl and her friend sat idly on the steps of the local insurance agent's office building in downtown St. James. They'd noticed that four men in an old red hatchback had driven past a couple of times. When the driver pulled up and offered a ride, the 14-year-old took them up on their offer.
Once in the car, sandwiched between two men in the backseat, it didn't take long for the girl to realize she was in over her head. When the men told her they were driving her to another town 15 minutes away, she said she didn't want to go. Chapa kept going. She leaned forward and yanked back on his ponytail, demanding he turn the car around. Chapa did, but turned down a county road.
Chapa pulled over into an isolated field. The four men got out of the car and talked while the girl stayed inside. Eventually, one of the men got into the backseat with her and demanded she take off her pants. When she refused, he shoved her down, bashing her head on the window.
"Watch out, she's a smart one," the man yelled to his friends.