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Eyota man charged with murder

Fri, Nov 8th, 2002
Posted in Features

Joseph Allen Folkert of Eyota is escorted into Fillmore County District Court by Fillmore County Sheriff Chief Deputy Dave Christenson (left) and Jail Administrator Tom Smith (right) on Thursday morning. Folkert was arraigned on second degree murder charges in the death of Clarence Paulson. Journal photo by John Torgrimson

On the morning of Thursday, November 7, Fillmore County Sheriff officers charged Joseph Allen Folkert with the murder death of Clarence Paulson. The 22 year-old Eyota resident was arrested at the Olmsted County Jail where he had been held since October 22 on other charges. Folkert was arraigned in Fillmore County District Court on one count of second degree murder and one count of burglary in the first degree. By Minnesota law, only a grand jury can bring a first degree murder indictment. Fillmore County Attorney Matt Opat indicated that it is highly probable that a grand jury will be called to consider a first degree murder indictment. At the request of Opat, Fillmore County District Judge Robert Benson set bail at $1 million. Folkert’s next appearance in court will be on November 18. Paulson, 95, was found dead at his rural Pilot Mound farm on Monday, October 21. The Fillmore County Coroner ruled that autopsy tests showed that Paulson died from a blunt force injury. It further appeared that Paulson suffered injury in such a manner that would indicate that he was trying to protect himself. Paulson was last scene alive on October 20.According to Fillmore County Sheriff Jim Connolly, law enforcement officials started suspecting Folkert as early as October 25 when they were alerted by officials from a Pine Island bank that Folkert had opened a bank account using a $77,450 check drawn against Paulson’s checking account. By this time, Folkert was already in custody in the Olmsted County on an outstanding warrant from Dunn County, Wisconsin. Connolly said that search warrants were issued for Folkert's vehicle and two different residences where the suspect had recently lived, one in Eyota and one in Rochester. At one of the residences clothes were found and taken to the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) for analysis. On Wednesday, the Sheriff’s office received a positive match from the BCA lab showing that blood found on clothes belonging to Folkert was Paulsons. A criminal complaint for Folkert’s arrest was drawn up later that day.The murder weapon is believed to be a 51 inch pipe, one inch in diameter. The pipe was found with blood on it at the Paulson residence. Sheriff Connolly believes that Paulson was killed the night of Sunday, October 20, or the early morning hours of October 21. The victim may have been killed in a shed near the house, and his body later dragged into the barn and covered with straw.According to authorities, Folkert is shown on a security video tape cashing a check at the Security State Bank of Pine Island on October 21. The bank informed Folkert that he needed to wait seven days for the check to clear. Later that same day, Folkert cashed a check for $6,850 at the Peoples State Bank in Millville, bearing the purported signature of Paulson indicating the sale of 45 ewes. The bank paid Folkert the money. Both checks are believed to be forged. At the time of Folkert’s arrest he had $3,000 in his possession. It is believed that Folkert became familiar with Paulson through relatives who were in the fur business. Paulson was a known trapper. Sheriff Connolly stated that based on the evidence, they believe that Folkert acted alone.$1 million bailFolkert was without the aid of an attorney at his arraignment. He told the court that he was unable to reach his attorney Jeff Bagniefski of Rochester. Folkert challenged bail being set at $1 million stating that he has worked at the Valley View Overhead Door in Rochester the past three years and has a lot of contract work lined up. He also told the court he had lived in the area all his life and that his relatives were from the Elgin - Plainview area. Judge Benson, acknowledging the seriousness of the charges, set bail at $1 million. Benson set a Rule 8 evidentiary hearing for November 18. Folkert is being held temporarily in the Olmsted County Jail due to overcrowding at the Fillmore County Jail. The murder case will be prosecuted jointly by the Fillmore County Attorney’s office with the assistance of the Minnesota Attorney General’s office. Attorney Brent Wartner of the Attorney General’s office has been assigned the case.

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