Drinking, flirting and jealousy preceded the suspected beating and kidnapping of a 25-year-old Wright County man whose whereabouts remain a mystery three weeks later, according to felony charges against a Hutchinson, Minn., couple.
Robert O. Nuttall, 28, was charged Friday with kidnapping Christopher Rossing, of Albion Township. Also charged was his live-in girlfriend, Gwen M. Butcher, 33. Butcher is accused of aiding an offender after the fact. Both remained jailed Sunday.
Investigators determined Rossing was involved in "a physical altercation" with Nuttall about 1:30 a.m. Aug. 23 along Hwy. 12 in Howard Lake, according to Sheriff Joe Hagerty. The two had been drinking earlier at the American Legion, according to the charges.
Rossing's whereabouts remain unknown, and the Sheriff's Office is urging anyone with information about this case to call its investigators at 763-682-7637. A $5,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the missing man.
Prosecutor Brian Lutes said Sunday that "the circumstances of this case permitted us to charge the kidnapping" without having yet located Rossing.
Rossing's car was found in Howard Lake four days after he vanished. It was parked in a lot between a gas station and a flower shop with the keys in the ignition and the windows down.
Law enforcement and private searches have turned up nothing else so far, and a fundraising website run by the family holds out little hope that Rossing will be found alive.
"The outcome is looking to be the worst case scenario for our family & for our sweet, fun-loving Christopher," a posting read. "Foul play has been confirmed …"
According to the charges against both defendants:
Rossing and Nuttall were at the American Legion and flirting for the attention of the same woman, creating friction between the two. Butcher arrived and was irritated that Nuttall had been paying attention to another woman and spending money.
Nuttall left with Butcher, and Rossing went to Troubles Bar. Nuttall and Butcher later showed up at the bar and the trio fought after leaving the bar.
Nuttall and Butcher then drove home with Rossing in the SUV and Butcher told police Nuttall said he drove Rossing to Howard Lake.
According to the complaint, a search of the SUV showed it appeared "efforts had been made to clean the interior of the vehicle."
Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482