BEST LOCAL BOY GONE BAD - 2003
You know the world has gone wrong when you can't get decent pub for being a serial pipe-bomber. That's why it's important to recall a more innocent time, when a nice kid from Pine Island named Luke Helder, attending school at the University of Wisconsin-Stout, went very, very bad. The kid was on the golf team. He liked a little pot now and then, but hey, who doesn't? Worshiped Kurt Cobain, drove a Honda. Always made his friends laugh. He was a good kid, with good parents. But then the 21-year-old went on a five-day, 3,400-mile spree last spring, and now faces charges that he planted 18 pipe bombs in rural mailboxes in five states, injuring three. As Helder awaited trial in an Iowa prison, another kid from Waseca was arrested in November for having 11 pipe bombs in his UW-Stout dorm room, and in March another pipe bomb went off in nearby River Falls, Wisconsin. The kid, it seems, has followers. In our rush to claim everything and everyone as Minnesotan, let's not forget our own domestic terrorist. After all, in keeping with Minnesota Nice, Luke Helder told authorities that if they looked closely at his bombing pattern, they'd notice a smiley face dotted across America's heartland.