By Jesse Marx
By Chris Parker
By Jake Rossen
By Jesse Marx
By Michelle LeBow
By Alleen Brown
By Maggie LaMaack
By CP Staff
Officers knocked on the suite door. Two voices, one male and one female, went quiet. The cops knocked again. The door remained dead-bolted. A police officer tried to kick it in. Only then did the bolt slide back and the door open.
Standing in the frame was 47-year-old Curtis Lee Brovold, a tall man with sunken blue eyes and a shock of blonde hair. Behind him was the 14-year-old girl.
"She was protective of him. I think at the time she still thought there was a relationship," says Porter.
But as the day wore on, she finally admitted they'd had sex. Brovold was arrested. After his arraignment, he returned to his home in Granite Falls, packed a few belongings, and fled.
Even after an appearance on America's Most Wanted, the case remains unsolved. Porter sees it as an early harbinger of the internet's influence on child sex trafficking.
"Ten years ago, you weren't thinking about this, and here this guy was already doing it," he says. "I don't think he's stopped. I think he's still out there abusing children."
Oscar Michael Trevino, 57, was a short man with a creased, mustachioed face. The school bus driver lived quietly in the Blooming Prairie area for years and was an active member of its close-knit Hispanic community.
"I never saw him in any situation where we thought he was a predator," says Blooming Prairie Police Chief Paul Wayne.
What Trevino was hiding shocked the community: He'd been carrying on a relationship with a 13-year-old girl who rode his bus.
He had purposely altered his route in order to take her home last. Instead of bringing her directly to her stop, he'd drive her to a secluded dirt road.
He told her she should be his girlfriend. He started kissing her and fondling her under her clothes. Eventually, he started having sex with her on the bus before taking her home.
"To call it a seduction is kind," says Gary ReMine, the county attorney who prosecuted Trevino. "It's really an evil process."
Trevino pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual misconduct with a minor and got 180 days in jail. Sheriff's deputies grumbled that he should've done hard time, but in an effort to protect the girl from taking the stand, the prosecution was content to let him plead to lesser charges.
Soon after he hit the streets, Trevino took off.
There have been a few sightings since. Chief Wayne is almost certain he saw Trevino driving in a car with children just before he disappeared. But it happened while he was at the scene of a serious auto accident and couldn't leave.
The memory still haunts him, Wayne says. "I just don't trust him. That predatory behavior is a scary thing."
Local DEA agents arrived at the third floor apartment following up on a rumor. Receiving no response when they knocked, the agents went in, where they made a stomach-turning discovery.
Somehow the two full-grown men—one 32, the other 29—had been strangled to death in their East St. Paul apartment.
A friend of the two men told police there had been a party in the apartment the night of the murders. That led police to Epitacio Maleno Duarte, a grim-faced 29-year-old. Duarte admitted he knew both victims and had been in the apartment the night they died, but insisted he had no idea what had happened.
As an investigation progressed, the cops found out that the DEA had been watching Duarte on suspicion of dealing meth.
But by then Duarte's apartment had been cleared out. He fled with his wife and infant in a tan Chevy Tahoe. Duarte may still be in Minnesota, though he may have run to Mexico.
"This is a level of violence that we haven't seen in our town," says Lynch. "That's a level that is more commonly seen on some of the border towns in Mexico."
Michael Duong's family saw him as the embodiment of their American dream. The son of immigrant parents from Southeast Asia, he was doing well at Highland Park Junior High, making friends and getting good grades. All that changed in an instant—and all because he wore the color red.
A small, thin, 13-year-old boy with black hair, Duong was outside talking to a girl, wearing the school colors of Highland High School, when he was spotted by Hugo Zavala.
Zavala was at the wheel of a friend's truck, just back from a drug buy and cruising the streets of St. Paul with two fellow members of the Suñeno 13 street gang and two girls. Zavala slowed the car.
"Look at that Blood, look at that Blood," Zavala said, pointing to Duong.
"Are you a Blood?" another asked.
Before Duong could answer, a bat smashed him in the head.
"He is not a Blood!" Duong's friend screamed.