Police arrest Vermillion man as suspect in Paulson murder

Police arrest Vermillion man as suspect in Paulson murder Chaske Star McDonough by David Lias A Vermillion man was arrested by local law enforcement Friday, Aug. 16, for the murder of Mark Paulson.

Acting Vermillion Police Chief Kim Callahan said Chaske Star McDonough, 20, was taken into custody.

McDonough resided at 112 E. Cherry Street in an apartment located directly east of the Paulson trailer home in the Lamplighter Trailer Court.

"He was arrested for second degree murder," Callahan said at approximately 10 p.m. Friday. "The charge is a Class B felony which carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison."

The arrest was made in McDonough's apartment, Callahan said. McDonough is in custody in the Clay County Jail in Vermillion following an arraignment hearing Saturday in Yankton. Bond was set at $100,000, and McDonough remains in custody in Vermillion.

Investigators had determined Thursday, Aug. 15, that Paulson was killed in his Vermillion home. Paulson's body was transported to St. Paul, MN for an autopsy shortly after it was found in his home Aug. 13.

According to criminal complaint filed Aug. 16 in the magistrate division of the First Judicial Circuit Court, Paulson was killed on or about Aug. 11.

"The death investigation has now officially been ruled a homicide," Callahan told the Plain Talk Aug. 16. "That's from the M.E. (medical examiner) in St. Paul."

Rap sheet

McDonough has had other run-ins with law enforcement, according to reports broadcast by KSFY Television in Sioux Falls.

In 2000 a judge ordered him to stay away from two young Vermillion women. They filed for protection orders claiming McDonough was harassing them.

The complaints stemmed from an incident at a Sioux Falls mall. Both girls said they were worried about physical harm.

"Chaske and a friend followed us through the mall," one of the girls said. "We asked them to leave several times. Then we decided the best thing to do was ignore them. They continued to threaten to beat me up."

Both of the requests for protection indicated that McDonough owned guns or weapons and that he had threatened someone with a weapon.

During the same year, he was also charged with two counts of simple assault in Sioux Falls. He pled guilty to one of them and the second one was dropped.

Ironically, McDonough was interviewed as a concerned neighbor by KSFY Aug. 14, the day after Paulson's body was discovered.

Continued on page 12

"It's freaky because this is a small town and seems to be safe," he told a television reporter. "Then you hear about things like this that make you think it could happen to anyone."

Late last week, local law enforcement officials continued to be busy investigating Paulson's death, and were unable to release additional details about the incident. Investigators obtained a warrant to search McDonough's premises.

Callahan said local law enforcement officials are still following up on leads and gathering evidence. Personnel from the Vermillion Police Department, the Clay County Sheriff's Office and the crime scene unit team of the S.D. Department of Criminal Investigation, Pierre, are participating in the investigation.

"We've got everybody pretty occupied in all three agencies involved here," he said.

The crime scene remained sealed Friday, and likely will be limited only to investigators for some time yet.

"It's real tedious, long work," Callahan said of the tasks officials are carrying out in Paulson's home. "We (the police department) have some things that we need to do, also, in there, so it's going to be sealed up for a time yet."

Paulson's body was discovered after Vermillion police responded to a 911 call to his home at approximately 9:20 p.m. Aug. 13 at the Lamplighter Trailer Court, located at 108 E. Cherry Street.

Police refused to comment on the cause of death earlier this week as they waited for the autopsy to be completed in St. Paul. Callahan did initially say, however, that Paulson's death was suspicious in nature.

Callahan said Paulson had lived in Vermillion approximately 15 to 20 years. He wouldn't say who made the 911 call.

"We are currently following up leads and interviewing various people," he said.

A blue van from the Department of Criminal Investigation, Pierre, was parked outside Paulson's residence last week. The crime scene is sealed from the public with a long strand of yellow tape warning people not to cross, and local law enforcement personnel are making sure no one enters the crime scene.

Forensic specialists from Pierre have been painstakingly collecting samples of DNA, hair, fibers and other pieces of evidence from the trailer.

"Our detectives are also involved, not so much in the forensic investigation, but in any follow-up at the scene," Callahan said.

Once the DCI officials complete their sweep of the Paulson residence, he said, local law enforcement will collect evidence they need for their investigation.

Callahan said he is unable to discuss some aspects of the homicide, because the investigation is still active.

"Things we can't release are the condition of the body, the condition of the crime scene, etc., because those things, if made public, would damage our investigation," he said.

Callahan wouldn't comment Aug. 16 on the cause of Paulson's death. "That may come out later, but as of now, we are unable to release that," he said. "We feel there are some things we need to remain confidential about as the investigation proceeds. We don't want anything to hinder it because maybe we've leaked something out that we shouldn't have."

Local law enforcement developed leads in their investigation, Callahan said Aug. 16, thanks, in part, to information supplied by the public.

By earlier this week, officers were beginning to enter a "follow-up" stage in the murder investigation.

"There's a lot of follow-up; there's a lot of paperwork; the officers have to get all of the evidence, and all of the reports have to be turned in," Callahan said. "The state's attorney's office will be getting ready for subpoenas and things for the grand jury, and we'll have to get reports from the medical examiner out of St. Paul."

Callahan voiced confidence that no further arrests will be made.

"We don't see anything � there's no reason for us to suspect a second person at this time. Everything points to him (McDonough) as being the main party."

Not everyone questioned by authorities were initially forthcoming.

"We've had a few people that have some information that haven't been as forthcoming," he said, "and we've had to nudge them a little. This thing kind of got rolling on Friday, and people started making some statements, and it eventually started leading to him pretty quick."

People who believe they have information that may be helpful in the investigation may contact the Vermillion Police Department at 605-677-7070 or the Clay County Sheriff's Office at 605-677-7100.

Check for updates to this story on the Plain Talk's Web page at www.vermillionsd.com.

Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>