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Discarded Band-Aid helps crack home invasion case

STILLWATER — Authorities announced Tuesday that a violent Washington County home invasion last year was solved with a single Band-Aid, resulting in a federal indictment against four members of a gang allegedly responsible for similar incidents across Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Authorities found the Band-Aid during the initial investigation when the four men reportedly broke into a West Lakeland Township home, bound a 57-year-old woman’s hands and feet with zip ties, threatened her with a handgun and stole numerous items from her residence.

Washington County sheriff’s deputies collected the Band-Aid as DNA evidence, which one year later resulted in a hit against one of the men who turned out to be part of a group sought in connection with similar violent robberies in the two neighboring states.

According to a Washington County Sheriff’s Office news release, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Milwaukee has issued indictments against Jarold Cruz, 29; Siphanh Phongsavath, 35; Luis Antonio Ortiz, 21; and David Vega, 25.

“When deputies walk in the scene, that’s what we’re trained to do, we’re trained to look for things and ask things that may be out of the ordinary,” Washington County Sheriff Bill Hutton said. “A deputy quite literally sees a Band-Aid where some folks just say, ‘Oh, it’s just a Band-Aid.’ ”

Washington County worked with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, the FBI, the Brown (Wis.) County Sheriff’s Office, the Milwaukee Police Department and the Metro Regional Information Collaborative to identify the four suspects.

The case remains open as law enforcement officials continue to assist in the federal prosecution.

Riham Feshir
Riham Feshir is a reporter and photographer for the Woodbury Bulletin. Her coverage includes Woodbury City Hall, Washington County Board of Commissioners and business news.  Follow Riham on Twitter @RihamFeshir for the latest updates.