Charges: Paroled murderer kidnaps, rapes woman near Duluth

·2 min read

DULUTH – Authorities say a Duluth man previously convicted of murder kidnapped and raped a woman on a rural St. Louis County logging road last weekend.

Dennis J. Hannuksela, 62, was charged with two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and felony kidnapping on Tuesday.

According to the criminal complaint:

Hannuksela picked up the 20-year-old victim, a woman he has known for several years, around 12:30 a.m. on Saturday. The two smoked marijuana and dumped a couch on the side of a road off Hwy. 53 north of Duluth.

Afterward, Hannuksela "got a strange look and then lunged at her." The woman got out of his vehicle and ran down the road before Hannuksela tackled, zip-tied and raped her.

On the drive back into town he kept her tied and said he would "buy her a car, get her nails fixed and would put her on his life insurance." The woman was dropped off at home about 3:30 a.m. and went to the hospital with injuries on her wrists and bruises on her knees and legs.

Hannuksela was booked into the St. Louis County Jail at 6:30 a.m. Sunday. He denied the incident happened, saying "she would report something like this to try to extort money from him."

Authorities found zip ties and a pair of women's underwear in Hannuksela's vehicle.

He is being held on $250,000 bail following his first court appearance Tuesday morning. His next hearing is scheduled for June 15.

First-degree criminal sexual conduct carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison.

Hannuksela, originally of Gilbert, was convicted of first-degree murder in the 1987 killing of 65-year-old Arthur Nelson of Landfall, Minn., whose bones were found on the Iron Range. Before he was convicted, Hannuksela escaped custody by faking a leg injury, according to Star Tribune reports at the time.

Hannuksela was sentenced to life in prison with a minimum of 17.5 years served. He was released from prison and placed under supervision in 2017, according to the St. Louis County Attorney's office.

Brooks Johnson • 218-491-6496

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