Lindstrom, Minn. Good Samaritans brutally beaten honored as heroes

A brother and sister in Lindstrom, Minn. spotted a woman running for her life, and they decided it was their duty to help. They didn't know they'd end up getting beaten up. Months later, however, the pair and the first responders, who are more like family, are being honored as heroes.

In December, police said Robert Chmielewski was chasing his sister, who sought shelter in Karen Noles' home. Earlier that month, Chmielewski and his sister moved in just down from the street from them in a trailer park. The pair apparently got into a fight about her cat. Robert had kicked the cat out, but she let it back in. When Robert discovered this, he allegedly "became angry and violent and grabbed her by the arms and would not let her leave the house," a criminal complaint said. 

"She came down the street yelling for help, and I yelled get in here. Got her in the house, gave her the phone, locked her in the bathroom, and told her to call 911," Karen said. Chmielewski followed her inside, encountering Karen's brother, Duane Noles and when officers arrived, the criminal complaint details what they saw:

Through the blinds, [an officer] observed a body on the floor. [The officer] observed the face was extremely bloody swollen, and appeared to be crushed inward...

Lakes Area Police officers Cory Spencer and Jen Paulsen were the first on-scene.

"I didn't know if he was alive or dead," Karen said. "All I could do was yell ‘Stop, stop beating him.'"

Police said they breached the door and immediately picked him up. Officer Spencer grabbed the top part of Chmielewski's body, and Officer Paulsen grabbed his feet and they tossed him to the porch. Duane's face barely looked human. The X-ray revealed every single bone broken, likely the result of one hundred punches. Duane would spent about a month in ICU, enduring countless surgeries. Karen and the officers would grow close.

"They're the best officers, the whole Lakes Area Police Department," Karen said. "I love them guys with so much of my heart."

The officers reciprocate that sentiment. Meanwhile, Karen and Duane recently received citizen valor awards, and the officers received life-saving awards. All honored for their courage, and now, hoping for Duane's healing.

"He faces it every day in the mirror. He says, 'god, I'm a monster, don't even look at me.' Duane, you still have your heart. You're not a monster. You're a hero," Karen said.

If you would like to help Duane Noles in his long and expensive road of recovery, the family is accepting donations at

There is also a fund at the Lake Area Bank in the names of Duane and Karen Noles.

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