Sister tells of frantic call from Tiedemann
A nervous Bruce Tiedemann told his sister that he had messed up, during a late afternoon telephone call on June 16, 2008, soon after police interviewed him.
Olmsted County jurors listened Wednesday as Robin Tiedemann recalled that and other telephone calls from her brother, now on trial and accused of raping a Rochester teenager near a city bike trail the afternoon of June 11, 2008.
Tiedemann is charged with two counts of first-degree and two counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct in connection with the assault. Tiedemann has pleaded not guilty. If convicted, he faces a mandatory life prison term without the possibility of release.
The 30-year-old sister said she and her brother were close, talking on the telephone daily, often several times a day, and getting together frequently to socialize. Her home in Mazeppa was less than two blocks from her parents' home, where Bruce also lived with his girlfriend.
She was one of seven witnesses who testified Wednesday, giving jurors a close-up view of the painstaking police investigation that finally led to a break on June 16.
Rochester Police Officer Eric Boynton, the lead investigator on the case, told jurors that police spent days canvassing the crime scene area, walking through tall weeds in ditches and frontage roads, following the bike trail for miles in search of leads and talking to residents and business employees in the vicinity, as well as panhandlers and people in homeless camps.
Then investigators decided to talk to staff members with the county sex offender probation unit.
Police had a general description of the suspect from the 15-year-old victim. The suspect had kept his face covered except for his eyes, which were brown. The victim also said he had bushy dark eyebrows and hair on the backs of his hands. He was about 5 feet 9 inches tall and stocky. Probation staff said the mode of operation of the stranger assault and the description made them think of Tiedemann, a Level 3 sex offender who served time in prison for rapes in Goodhue and Wabasha counties and was out and under no supervision.
Within minutes of getting that lead on June 16, Boynton said police were on the phone to Tiedemann, who agreed to come to the law enforcement center for an interview. During the 25-minute interview that occurred between 3 p.m. and 3:30 p.m., Boynton said Tiedemann denied any involvement in the assault but admitted he had been in Rochester that day. He said he had taken his girlfriend to her job at 2:30 p.m., then ran some errands before going to McQuillan field in southeast Rochester, where he slept in his car until a 6:15 p.m. softball game. Tiedemann worked as an umpire, Boynton said.
Boynton took a DNA sample from Tiedemann and photographed the bottom of his shoes, which he thought matched a pattern seen in a shoe print in mud at the crime scene. Then Tiedemann left. Boynton said he called Tiedemann back a few minutes later, asking him to return for a couple more questions. Tiedemann agreed, but never returned.
Hours later, Boynton got a telephone call from a Wabasha County sheriff deputy, saying they had been called by Robin Tiedemann, concerned about her brother's welfare. She told jurors of the phone calls from her brother the afternoon of June 16. The first, she said, was about 3 p.m. and was just routine. The second, she said, came about 4:30 p.m.
She said his tone had changed entirely. "He was emotional. He was nervous," she said.
He told her he had messed up big time, and when she pressed him for more information, he told her she would find out.
"He said he was not coming back; that he would rather kill himself than go back,'' she said, and she took that to mean that he would kill himself before going back to prison.
While not saying much, he said he had left evidence behind, that "it got interrupted." Then, she said, he mentioned a condom and DNA.
Afterwards, she called her parents and met with them, and they decided to call the Wabasha County sheriff's department in hopes they would look for Tiedemann.
Boynton told jurors he obtained a warrant to search Tiedemann's home to look for possible evidence. Among items seized were a black stocking cap and neckwarmer, a pair of dark blue shorts he said appeared to have a semen stain, some receipts and a hunting knife from his van.
Robin Tiedemann and Stacy Tiedemann, who is married to Brian Tiedemann, the third sibling in the family, both testified about a family meeting held in mid-July at the parents home. The two said Bruce had asked for the meeting "to say goodbye." Both women said they were led to believe that Tiedemann was going to confess to some offense and turn himself in to authorities.
During the family meeting, the women said Bruce Tiedemann was confronted about any involvement in the Rochester rape of the teenager and another offense that occurred the previous year.
"He said he had something to do with the most recent one,'' they told jurors, meaning the assault of the 15-year-old Rochester teen.
"I screamed at him,'' Robin Tiedemann testified. "I said 'you ruined her life,' and then I left the meeting."
She said she has no had contact with her brother since that family meeting.
Stacy Tiedemann said Bruce was asked what it was like for him when committing an offense. She said Bruce responded that it was like being on drugs; it gave him a high. She said he said that during the offense, he didn't think about the victim, just about how it made him feel; later, he would feel remorse and go into a depression and sleep for days.
That was the last time Stacy Tiedemann saw her brother-in-law. However, she said she did receive a letter from him, dated Aug. 28, 2008. A portion of that letter was read to jurors:
"I understand you and Robin are looking at the girl's side. That is your right,'' he wrote. "I look at the same things. I may have wreaked (sic) her childhood. Yes, she should be having fun. And for what I have done, her life may be messed up forever."
Prosecutors could complete their case today with testimony from experts from the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, who analyzed evidence collected from the crime scene. Prosecutors already have said that DNA was found on the headset cords used to choke the victim that points to Tiedemann.