Meeker County sergeant charged with stalking

- A Meeker County Sheriff’s Office patrol sergeant placed on leave in September has been charged with stalking. According to the charges, Sgt. Joel Engler drove by the victim's house 6 or 7 times per day, sent up to 100 text messages per day, and even entered the victim's home and "tip toed around."

According to the criminal complaint, a man called the Meeker County Sheriff's Office on Sept. 13 to report that Sgt. Engler has been "obsessed" with him for the past several years and was being harassed for the past several months. Specifically, the man said Sgt. Engler drove by his house 6 or 7 times each day and sent him 10 to 100 text messages per day.

On Sept. 15, the man said Sgt. Engler entered his house without permission and "tip toed around" various rooms and the garage. A review of the squad car's GPS confirmed Engler was at the man's home that day for approximately 6 minutes, and confirmed the squad car frequently drove past the home.

The victim told police he was "frightened and threatened" and now keeps his shades pulled and doors locked. After Sgt. Engler came to his home on Sept. 15, the man was so scared he wanted to leave town.

When questioned by investigators, Sgt. Engler admitted to sending most of the text messages and to entering the man's home without permission.

The Willmar Police Department conducted the investigation and the Meeker County Attorney’s Office referred the case to the McLeod County Attorney’s Office for their review and consideration of charges. Engler is charged with with two gross misdemeanor counts of stalking.

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