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Charges: DNA match helps crack North Hudson copper theft

Authorities said DNA evidence linked two Woodbury men to a 2015 burglary where more than $76,000 worth of copper wire was stolen from a North Hudson railroad construction site.

On Wednesday, Aug. 9, St. Croix County prosecutors filed charges against those men and two others also suspected in the case.

Woodbury residents James C. Boyer, 37, and Daniel G. Kirchoff, 41, were both charged with two counts each of of felony theft and two misdemeanors: criminal property damage and entry onto a construction site.

Two people suspected of possessing some of the stolen material, Stillwater residents Justin C. Chamberlin, 40, and Jessica A.Henthorne, 41, face charges of conspiracy to burglarize, commit theft, vandalize and enter a construction site.

According to a criminal complaint:

North Hudson police were called April 8, 2015, to the Union Pacific Railroad site on St. Croix Street for a copper-cable theft report.

The railroad crew foreman said workers noticed copper cable spools out of place. Some appeared to have been rolled across the property and many were missing.

Trailers and storage containers housing the material had been opened by force, workers reported. Locks were found cut and hasps around the locks were also found cut or drilled out.

The railroad reported the missing material's value at $76,264.

A St. Croix County Sheriff's Office investigator was alerted two days later by a St. Paul metal-recycling facility that a customer had scrapped wire there that matched the description of the missing material from North Hudson. The man who scrapped the wire was identified as Kirchoff, who an investigator interviewed later that day.

Kirchoff told authorities he got the wire from Chamberlin, who had asked him to strip the wire in exchange for 100 pounds worth of the material. Boyer also helped strip the wire, Kirchoff reported.

Railroad officials later identified a large amount of wire, stripped metal and other materials as items that were missing from the North Hudson construction site. The items had been confiscated after being found in a van at Chamberlin and Henthorne's shared home in Stillwater.

Authorities also requested DNA testing on Mountain Dew cans found at the railroad site. The cans, found inside a gate that had been forced open, contained DNA matching Boyer's and Kirchoff's.

All four suspects are scheduled to make their first court appearances Nov. 2.

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is a regional/enterprise reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage includes St. Croix County government, higher education and state politics in Wisconsin. 

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