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Woman charged with putting lighter fluid in milk

By Jason Schulte and R-E staff

ELLSWORTH — A Red Wing woman will make her first appearance in Pierce County Circuit Court Monday on a felony charge of placing foreign objects in edibles.

Danielle Lynn Larson, 22, is accused of putting lighter fluid in milk, which the father of her child drank. The charge is a Class I felony. She also is faces a misdemeanor charge of victim intimidation.

In April, Brandon Herber notified Ellsworth police that he suspected there was lighter fluid in his chocolate milk. He said the milk was purchased on Wednesday April 9 and he drank some at that time. He was gone for most of the next day, the court complaint continues, and on that Friday he poured some more milk, drank it and that’s when he noticed an odor and foul taste.

Police found a container of lighter fluid nearby and concluded it smelled very similar to the chocolate milk. The victim said he drank some Mountain Dew afterward and he could still taste the lighter fluid.

That was the second time in two days that he contacted police. On that Thursday, Herder reported a gun stolen from his apartment. He told police that Larson had a key to the apartment and was the one who told him the gun was missing.

Police interviewed Larson the next week. She explained that she and Herder used to live together but moved out after multiple fights. While moving her belongings that Wednesday, she texted him about the gun’s whereabouts. He replied where he thought it would be, she told him it wasn’t there, the complaint says. Herder accused Larson of taking the gun, which she denied.

Police then got to the milk incident. Larson initially denied involvement, the complaint states. Eventually, the conversation shifted as police told Larson they wanted to know why and what happened.

At this point, Larson began to express anger and frustration with Herder, police said. She allegedly admitted to putting a couple of drops of fluid into the milk. When police asked why, she responded, “I don’t know.”

She then told police she thought Herder would smell the milk before drinking it.

In May, police interviewed Herder a second time. He said he took one swallow and then realized something was wrong. He said he felt nauseous, but did not see a doctor.

Larson allegedly asked Herder, “Are you going to drop the gun and poison charges?” He said he said no. Herder also said Larson offered custody of their child if he would drop the charges.

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