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Updated: Windom elementary school para killed in double-homicide

ST. JAMES -- A Winfair Elementary School paraprofessional died Saturday in St. James as the result of gunshot wounds inflicted by her step-father. According to personnel in the Windom Area School District Human Resources Department, Rachel E. Lin...

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ST. JAMES - A Winfair Elementary School paraprofessional died Saturday in St. James as the result of gunshot wounds inflicted by her step-father.

According to personnel in the Windom Area School District Human Resources Department, Rachel E. Linder, 43, of St. James was a para at Winfair Elementary in Windom for the past five years.

Grief counseling by mental health staff and local clergy was available Monday and Tuesday at the Winfair Elementary library.  

Winfair Elementary Principal Jamie Frank said Linder worked with a variety of students over the years, connecting to each student’s needs.

“She was a patient and kind person who loved children,” Frank said Tuesday. “She had a great sense of humor and contagious smile that brightened everyone’s day. The Winfair Family will miss her greatly and we give our deepest sympathies to her family.”

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Scott Engelbrecht, 59, of St. James was charged Monday in Watonwan County District Court in connection to the double-homicide.

Engelbrecht is charged with two counts of felony second-degree intentional murder and second-degree assault, a felony, after allegedly admitting to law enforcement that he killed both his wife, Joyce A. Engelbrecht and step-daughter, Linder. A murder conviction is punishable by up to 40 years imprisonment. His bail was set at $1 million with conditions or $2 million without.

According to the criminal complaint, both victims were shot as a result of an alleged argument about a wedding anniversary that escalated Saturday evening around dinnertime. A witness told law enforcement that the Engelbrechts began arguing because Scott Engelbrecht allegedly forgot the couple’s anniversary this year and the past several years. The witness went downstairs, but later heard a thud and then heard Linder yell at Engelbrecht for shooting Joyce.

When the witness emerged from downstairs with a stun gun, Engelbrecht redirected the .22-caliber rifle he had been pointing toward the kitchen to him. The witness attempted to use the stun gun but was unsuccessful. He told Linder to run and not stop and retreated to the basement to dial 911.

Linder was found deceased by law enforcement two houses away from the scene of the double-homicide on First Avenue South, St. James.

According to the Ramsey County medical examiner, Linder suffered a bullet wound in the back, left forearm and head. The examiner determined Linder was in close proximity when the gun discharged.

The complaint details the injuries Joyce sustained, but notes she was breathing and appeared to be alert when law enforcement found her. She was transferred to the hospital, listed in critical condition. She was declared dead at 2:01 p.m. Sunday.

When officers responded to the reported shooting, Engelbrecht was seen walking through the backyard carrying a .22-caliber rifle. Upon instructing him to drop his weapon, Engelbrecht propped it against a tree and walked toward the officer and said “I shot her” or “I did it,” the complaint details. Engelbrecht put his hands and wrists together, ready to be handcuffed, despite not being instructed to do so.

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While this encounter occurred, the witness emerged from the residence and yelled that Joyce was inside and had been shot. Engelbrecht was instructed to turn around and put his hands behind his back. Before doing so, Engelbrecht pulled out several .22-caliber shells from his pocket and placed them on the driveway.

In a post-arrest interview, Engelbrecht gave several statements and did not deny shooting either victim.

Original post:

ST. JAMES -- A Winfair Elementary School paraprofessional died Saturday in St. James as the result of gunshot wounds inflicted by her step-father.

According to personnel in the Windom Area School District Human Resources Department, Rachel E. Linder, 43, of St. James was a para at Winfair Elementary in Windom for the past five years.

Grief counseling by mental health staff and local clergy was available Monday and Tuesday.

Scott Engelbrecht, 59, of St. James was charged Monday in Watonwan County District Court in connection to the double-homicide.

For more on this story, see Wednesday’s print edition or check back for updates at dglobe.com.

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