January 31, 2019 10:39 PM
A former Woodbury bus aide accused of inappropriately touching preschool girls was found in his apartment at a senior care center with what authorities believe to be self-inflicted wounds, while a woman there was found dead, Woodbury police confirmed Thursday afternoon.
Seventy-two-year-old Harvey Theodore Kneifl had been expected in court Thursday morning for a verdict in his criminal trial. But he did not appear, leading police officers to conduct a welfare check at his apartment on the 7500 block of Bailey Road, a release said.
In November, Kneifl pleaded not guilty to 10 counts of criminal sexual conduct. A follow-up release Thursday night said he is expected to survive his injuries.
The court proceedings that had been scheduled for Thursday morning have been postponed tentatively until March.
The Ramsey County Medical Examiner's office is conducting an autopsy on the woman.
“Definitely shocked - shocked is the best word to describe it,” said Christopher Keyser, Kneifl’s lawyer.
“When there was suspicion something might be wrong, when Mr. Kneifl didn't show up for court, that thought may cross your mind. You hope it's nothing like what may have been reported.
“I just saw him on Monday of this week. He appeared normal. We discussed this case. He seemed fine. I didn't get any impression that anything was off with him by any means."
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Allegations were made against Kneifl in February of 2017 when parents of a pre-school student within the South Washington County School District told police their daughter told them she had been inappropriately touched on her way to school.
Authorities learned Kneifl was a substitute driver on a bus that transported children between the ages of 3 and 5 to schools in South Washington County.
Authorities reviewed bus video, rosters and student contact information on bus routes Kneifl worked. Kneifl told authorities he developed closer relationships to the children than their parents and that he likes to sit next to the girls because they are "more fun," a criminal complaint released at the time stated.
A review of his record revealed Kneifl had no prior criminal history and a public defender stated he was the primary caregiver of his wife with Parkinson's disease.
The release said Woodbury police detectives, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and the Ramsey County Medical Examiner are investigating what transpired Thursday morning.
But police stress there was no threat to the public, or residents of the senior center where the incident occurred. They said what occurred was not a random act.
Updated: January 31, 2019 10:39 PM
Created: January 31, 2019 12:10 PM
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