Big drama in small-town Minnesota after a party gone wrong

The story behind the investigation of Mille Lacs County Attorney Jan Jude

"People were just kinda saying that around," one person told police. "Just like, if you're gonna drink you have to stay here. They didn't want you leaving."

"And when you said 'they,' who was that to assume?" asked Douglas.

"Her parents."

Bailey Hamilton was rushed to the hospital with a .21 BAC after drinking on Jude’s property
Brett Larson, Mille Lacs Messenger
Bailey Hamilton was rushed to the hospital with a .21 BAC after drinking on Jude’s property

One girl, whose name was redacted from police documents, said she gave her keys directly to Jan Jude.

"Okay, all right, when did you turn your keys over to [redacted] or her mom?" Douglas asked.

"Ah, like, before we went down to the fire."

"Okay, and was that because she knew you were drinking or you turned 'em over to [redacted] or directly to her mom?"

"I gave them to her mom."

"Her mom? And her mom asked for 'em?"

"Yeah."

But other partygoers Douglas interviewed gave a different version of events, and said they were explicitly told by the Judes that they were not allowed to drink. In Douglas's interview with Kolb, she took the blame for allowing kids to drink, saying her mom and dad knew nothing about it.

"They made it very, very clear to me there was to be absolutely no drinking, but I'm a teenager and I have no sense," Kolb said.

"I personally said I don't want any of you drinking if you've been driving," she said later in the interview. "That wasn't a rule from my mom or Russ or anybody."

"How many kids do you think were at the bonfire?" asked Douglas.

"The most probably at one time: 15, 10 to 15. I'm not sure."

On June 14, Douglas sat down with Jan Jude to get her side of the story. Jan maintained she knew nothing about drinking.

"My understanding is that the kids were just having a bonfire, which was okay with us," she said. "We had discussed that, and it sounds sort of cliché probably, but she had asked me to get a bunch of s'mores stuff. That's the kind of bonfire it was supposed to be."

When Douglas recited statements from others saying it was okay to drink, Jan denied knowing anything about it.

"One young lady I spoke with stated that she gave her keys directly to you in the garage at the house with the understanding that she was going to be drinking and spending the night," said Douglas.

"No," retorted Jan. "That is absolutely not true."

"I'm gonna ask you," Douglas said later in the interview, "did you give alcohol to any of the kids here?"

"No," replied Jan.

On a recent afternoon in rural Milaca, Kim and Bailey Hamilton sit at their kitchen table. Since the party, Bailey says he's been receiving harassing messages on Facebook blaming him for the Judes' troubles. Kim has also been dealing with the fallout, hearing whispers from people in town who think she should be held responsible, given that it was her son who drank too much.

"I notice that I'm getting a lot of looks, like at the grocery store and stuff, but people haven't directly said anything to me," she says.

Meanwhile, Larson recently announced plans to leave his position as editor of the Mille Lacs Messenger, a move that has been a long time coming, he says. "It's more 16 years of chronic stress than one month of acute stress. But during the course of the last month, I've realized that I just don't like my job enough to continue."

Last week, Douglas turned his investigation over to Andover City Prosecutor Scott Baumgartner. Douglas noted the conflicting reports from kids, but said there was no evidence to suggest Jude provided the booze. Baumgartner says he plans to make a decision on how to move forward this week. With potential charges pending, Jan Jude wouldn't comment for this story, other than to reiterate that she didn't know about the drinking.

"I knew of a small bonfire with my daughter's closest friends, and they were told that no alcohol would be tolerated," Jude told City Pages.

If the prosecutor deems no charges are appropriate, Kim says she plans to let the case rest. She takes comfort in knowing the outcome could have been much worse.

"We're just happy Bailey was fine," she says. "It was very scary."

Additional reporting by Brett Larson and Rob Passons of the Mille Lacs Messenger

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