The Free Press, Mankato, MN

July 10, 2013

Nashville fugitive remains jailed without bail

Authorities says suspect helped kidnap, assault, rape and rob victims

By Dan Nienaber
dnienaber@mankatofreepress.com

---- — MANKATO — A man wanted for allegedly being involved in a brutal robbery and kidnapping in Nashville in March 2012 will remain jailed without bail in Blue Earth County while authorities wait for Tennessee's governor to sign a warrant.

Peterpal T. Tutlam, 29, was arrested at about 6 a.m. June 9 by a Mankato police officer responding to a report of a suspicious person at the Kwik Trip in the 1700 block of Monks Avenue. No local charges were filed, but Tutlam was taken into custody because Nashville authorities had issued a nationwide warrant for his arrest.

He is accused of helping three other men kidnap, beat and rob two men who were walking outside a Nashville apartment complex at about 4 a.m. the morning of March 17, 2012. A witness called police from a house several miles away from where the men were abducted. The men, naked and bleeding, walked to the witness' house after being left on a remote section of road.

The two victims told police four males confronted them at the apartment complex, threatened them with a large knife and forced them into a car, according to news releases issued by the Nashville Police Department shortly after the incident. The males stole the victims' bank cards, forced them to provide their personal identification numbers and drove them around to automatic teller machines so cash could be withdrawn from their bank accounts.

Both men told police they were repeatedly stabbed and beaten as the males drove them around for more than an hour before being forced to remove their clothing and get out of the car. They also reported they were forced to perform sexual acts with each other while being threatened with a knife or knives. One of the victims was admitted to a hospital and treated for serious injuries stemming from the assault. The other victim was treated at the hospital and released.

Two of the suspects, a 21-year-old man and his 15-year-old cousin, were arrested two days after the incident. An arrest warrant was issued for a third man after he was identified through surveillance photographs from at least one of the cash machines. Police warrants issued for Tutlam's arrest describe the kidnappings, robberies and assaults but don't say how Tutlam was identified as a suspect.

Rachel Vance, executive assistant for the Nashville Police Department's public affairs office, said Wednesday that she didn't know how investigators identified Tutlam as someone involved. But, once he became a suspect, a victim identified him in a photo lineup, she said.

When Tutlam appeared in Blue Earth County District Court the day after his arrest in Mankato, District Court Judge Bradley Walker ordered that he be jailed without bail for 30 days while awaiting extradition. Tutlam did not waive his right to challenge the extradition process, so another hearing was scheduled for Wednesday because authorities had not received a warrant from Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam. The extradition process includes having Nashville police show that Tutlam is the person they are looking for and having Haslam issue a warrant to Gov. Mark Dayton.

When Tutlam appeared before District Court Judge Krista Jass again Wednesday for a new bail hearing, Assistant Blue Earth County Attorney Chris Rovney told her Nashville authorities are working on obtaining the governor's warrant. Jass ordered that Tutlam remain in jail without bail for another 60 days, adding that would be the limit allowed by state statutes.

Vance said Wednesday that Nashville police are working on obtaining the warrant.