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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Minnesota

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Owatonna Sex Offender Arrested, Charged After Threatening to Carry Out a Murder Plot

MINNEAPOLIS – A federal criminal complaint has been filed against an Owatonna sex offender for sending graphic threats detailing a murder plot against his former child sexual abuse victim, announced Acting United States Attorney Charles J. Kovats.

According to court documents, in March 2021, the Upper Allen Township Police Department in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, began investigating Michael Lee Kurkowski, 26, regarding the communication and exchange of sexually explicit images of a minor. The investigation revealed that Kurkowski possessed sexually explicit images and videos of a minor and was aware that his victim was, at the time, a minor under the age of 18. Kurkowski also admitted to traveling to Pennsylvania to locate the minor and to try to continue a “relationship” after the minor attempted to end the online communications with Kurkowski. On April 14, 2021, Kurkowski was charged in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, of multiple felonies related to the sexual exploitation of the minor and was sentenced to 142 days in prison followed by probation. Kurkowski’s probation conditions included, among other things, the requirement to register as a sex offender, refraining from behavior which may present a danger to others, and not possessing weapons.

According to court documents, in December 2021, law enforcement began investigating Kurkowski’s online communications and sexual exploitation of a minor in East Peoria, Illinois. In January 2022, investigators with the East Peoria Police Department (EPPD) reviewed several messages from Kurkowski to the minor describing in graphic detail a plan to travel to Pennsylvania where Kurkowski would murder the parents of his former victim, rape his sister, and then kill her in front of his former victim. EPPD also notified the Cedar Falls Police Department after the investigation revealed that Kurkowski was also engaging in the sexual exploitation of a second minor in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

According to court documents, on February 4, 2022, investigators with the Owatonna Police Department learned that Kurkowski had purchased a Greyhound bus ticket and was currently en route to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, the general location of Kurkowski’s former victim and his family. FBI investigators developed information on Kurkowski’s whereabouts and were able to track him to a bus stop in Toledo, Ohio, where authorities took Kurkowski into custody. According to court documents, when he was arrested, Kurkowski had with him a bag containing among other things 16 heavy flex cuffs, electrical tape, a taser, a large knife, rubber gloves, and hooded facemasks.

Kurkowski has been charged by complaint in the District of Minnesota with one count of threatening interstate communication. Kurkowski made his initial appearance yesterday before Magistrate Judge Darrell A. Clay in the Northern District of Ohio, who ordered that Kurkowski be detained temporarily and removed to Minnesota, where he will make his initial appearance and have a detention and preliminary hearing at a later date.

This case is the result of an investigation conducted by the FBI, the Owatonna Police Department, the Upper Allen Township (Pennsylvania) Police Department, the East Peoria (Illinois) Police Department, and the Cedar Falls (Iowa) Police Department.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Laura M. Provinzino is prosecuting the case.

A criminal complaint is merely an allegation and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Topic(s): 
Violent Crime
Component(s): 
Updated February 8, 2022