LE SUEUR —
Dutler and VanHorn met with a Shakopee lawyer on Nov. 7 to work out the loan details. The house and property were used as collateral for the loan. When they went to pay off the mortgage, however, they were told a “certificate of redemption” would be sent to Dutler after it was issued by the bank.
On Dec. 27, before meeting with Collins to report the theft, VanHorn’s wife was checking county records about Dutler’s property and learned it was in the name of Struther VanHorn. Cole VanHorn told Collins Struther VanHorn is Ruth’s daughter and that she lives and works in Ohio.
When Cole VanHorn checked the deed for Dutler’s property at the county recorder’s office, he learned Dutler had signed the property over to her daughter on Nov. 26. The deed was created on Nov. 4, which Cole VanHorn said was the same time he and Dutler were discussing the loan.
Collins was contacted a short time after firefighters were sent to the fire at Dutler’s house in January. High winds helped the fire spread quickly, so it was almost gone by the time he arrived.
“I would respond to the location and observe Ruth Dutler’s residence was heavily involved in fire and was caving/collapsing into the basement,” Collins said in the complaint. “Over the course of the following days/weeks, efforts were made to identify a cause and origin of the fire, however due to the extensive damage/total destruction, the cause and origin could not be determined and are unknown at this time.”
Dutler said she lost five generations worth of family heirlooms in the fire along with the ashes from her late husband. Firefighters were at the scene for hours trying to beat down the blaze in freezing temperatures.
“My whole world is gone and it doesn’t have anything to do with money,” she said.