Daniel L. Scheff was no stranger to trouble. His rap sheet of drinking- and drug-related charges swallows an entire page.
Last summer, during one shady moment, Scheff made nice with the Hexum brothers, Devin and Derek. Unbeknownst to him, the siblings were way out of Scheff's criminal league.
Scheff met the Hexums in the heat of a Friday night last July. Sometime that night outside of Granite Falls, older brother Devin Hexum, then 21, was riding shotgun in Derek Hexum's pickup truck when the pair unserendipitously introduced themselves to Schneff.
Would he like to hang with them at the nearby Prairie's Edge Casino Resort? the Hexums asked Schneff.
Derek's truck engine would supposedly go kaput before the trio made it to the casino. The driver stayed behind with the vehicle parked on the shoulder while the other two men started walking on the gravel road toward Scheff's relative's house, where they hoped to get mechanical help.
They had been on foot for a few minutes when Devin allegedly asked Scheff: Where's your wallet?
Seconds later, Derek's pickup reappeared, barreling up next to them.
Devin pulled out a handgun that had been concealed beneath his waistband. From a distance of five feet, he unloaded multiple rounds into Scheff's chest and abdomen.
The triggerman would later tell Yellow Medicine County Judge Thomas Van Hon he had intended to kill Scheff, although he couldn't explain why.
At 12:41 a.m. Saturday morning, an emergency call came in to to the Yellow Medicine County Sheriff's Office.
First responders found Scheff two miles south of Granite Falls on Highway 23, covered in blood. They initially thought he had been hit by a car. The victim, who would survive the ambush, was first taken to the Granite Falls Hospital before being airlifted to Minneapolis's Hennepin County Medical Center.
For almost four days, the Hexums were on the lam.
The following Tuesday, authorities spotted the brother fugitives on Highway 23 just south of Marshall. Squads from the Marshall Police Department and Lyon County Sheriff chased the Hexums across multiple counties. During the pursuit, one of the brothers phoned a relative in nearby Lake Benton, saying they were going to drive until they ran out of gas, then make a stand against their pursuers.
On County Road 137 near the South Dakota border, a Minnesota State Trooper nosed the back end of the Hexums' vehicle, causing it to flip into a ditch.
Devin Hexum got 10 years in prison for shooting Scheff.
Derek was convicted of felony aiding an offender to avoid arrest. He was sentenced to 213 days of jail time and a one-year stayed prison sentence, the maximum under sentencing guidelines.
Judge Van Hon told Derek he regretted not having the authority to impose a harsher sentence.
Now the residents of Balaton, Minnesota, regret it too.
Derek is the alleged ringleader in the April 30 shooting deaths of 75-year-old farmer Jim Hively and his bride of 53 years, Cathy, age 71.
According to authorities, Derek, along with 18-year-old Theodore Como and 21-year-old Kyle Wesselink, drove to the Hively farm to commit a burglary. According to charging documents, Wesselink, the driver, said Como opened the house door for Hexum, who entered armed with a shotgun.
After a cacophony of screams and gunshots, Como entered the Hively residence and started to pilfer items, including guns. They also stole a vehicle belonging to the couple.
The men left the scene only to return a short time later because Como and Hexum had decided that they needed to destroy crime scene evidence by setting the home ablaze.
Hexum has been charged with four crimes, including arson and second-degree murder. Como faces three: arson, murder, and burglary. Wesselink faces three as well: burglary, arson, and receiving stolen property.
A memorial service was held for the Hivelys on May 5 before the couple was laid to rest at the Russell City Cemetery.
Send tips to Cory Zurowski.