By Mark Fischenich
---- — Even with the help of dogs, dozens of squad cars, a State Patrol helicopter and countless mosquitoes, police again came up just short of capturing a fugitive they had been seeking since last week.
North Mankato authorities had spotted Jacob John Friedrichs, who has been accused of hitting a Blue Earth County Sheriffs deputy with a car and is being connected to stolen property, driving on Range Street in lower North Mankato. He drove up the hill in to upper North Mankato and then came down the wrong way on Highway 14 going east in the westbound lanes trying to elude police.
He eventually drove into the ditch right below the steep bluff along Highway 14 and ran from the car into the woods.
Authorities set up search perimeter along Highway 14, the west side of Highway 169 past Waco Scaffolding and along the eastern edge of upper North Mankato.
Canine units from as far away as Fairmont and Jordan responded to the search, said Nicollet County Sheriff Dave Lange. He estimated there were 4 to six dogs involved and a dozen or more agencies.
Lange said at about 5:40 p.m. authorities would make one more push into woods with canine units and if no luck, call it off for now.
Friedrichs spent time in prison on a meth conviction and has been connected to stolen property as well as the incident where he clipped a deputy with a car trying to run from a traffic stop.
Lange said anyone willing to drive down Highway 14 the wrong way is a danger to the public, "Sooner or later he's going to hurt somebody."
"He has a total disregard for the law and the general public."
Swarming mosquitoes were not only a problem for deputies but for the suspect as well.
"The bugs are just horrendous," Lange said. He didn' t have any doubt Freidrichs was suffering badly. "He's going to be a few quarts low on blood."
As of last Friday, authorities still searching for Friedrichs found the search was garnering a growing list of stolen property.
Authorities have been searching for Friedrichs since he ran after being in a car that clipped a deputy during a stop on June 29. He wasn't found that night nor after a larger search that was launched after a deputy saw him again riding in a pickup truck driven by another woman through Southhaven Mobile Home Park last Tuesday. The deputy reported Friedrichs ran before he could get to the pickup.
When the deputy returned to the pickup after losing Friedrichs, he did find a large amount of heavy gauge copper wire in the bed of the truck. An employee at Southern Minnesota Construction had reported Monday that several hundred feet of copper wire had been stolen from one of its mining operations. An SMC employee was called to the Blue Earth County Justice Center to look at the copper and he reported it was some of the copper that had been stolen, according to an affidavit used to get a search warrant for the pickup Friday.
The woman who was driving the pickup also ran after the deputy attempted to catch Friedrichs. She was found during the search, however. She told investigators she and her boyfriend had been at a rented mini storage unit with Friedrichs earlier that morning. Friedrichs had cut the copper from a spool there, she said. She also said Friedrichs had a camouflaged all terrain vehicle in the shed.
When deputies searched the storage unit last Tuesday, they found a large amount of copper wire and the four wheeler. The vehicle had several options on it, including heated seats and a windshield. The same vehicle, which was confirmed with a serial number, was one of two that had been reported stolen from a residence in Nicollet County in June.
Friedrichs is on parole after serving prison time for manufacturing methamphetamine in 2004. The Department of Corrections issued a warrant for his arrest last week for violating his parole.
"It's just a matter of time before we find him," Blue Earth County Chief Deputy Mike Mauer said Friday. "He's not going anywhere."
The woman who was driving the car on June 29, 31-year-old Corinna Faye Nielson, told the deputy she hit his squad car door because Friedrichs reached down and pushed her foot on the accelerator. Both she and Friedrichs are facing felony assault charges for that incident.