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Barnesville man arrested in 1992 Connecticut cold case

Police arrested a 49-year-old Barnesville, Minn., man Wednesday on an arrest warrant tied to a cold-case 1992 Connecticut homicide, seven months after the longtime suspect gave a court-ordered DNA sample to investigators for testing.

Donald Gregory Krauth told The Forum in August that he was a suspect in the strangulation death of Charles Cromwell at the time of the man's death 18 years ago, but he said he didn't kill the 58-year-old widower.

"It isn't something I did. I'm not like that. I'm a dad. I'm a grandpa. You know, I work every day," he said.

At about 2 p.m., a police investigator from Bethel, Conn., arrested Krauth in Fargo on a felony warrant connected to the 1992 murder, said Clay County Sheriff Bill Bergquist.

Bergquist said he wasn't sure why Krauth, who was booked into the Cass County Jail at 2:20 p.m., was picked up in Fargo.

"I don't know if he was working or what," he said.

Krauth said in August he was a construction worker who had lived in Barnesville for 11 years.

He was forced to give up a sample of DNA on Aug. 17 by a search warrant filed in Clay County District Court tied to the investigation into Cromwell's death that police in Bethel were revisiting.

The application for the search warrant states that detectives planned to compare Krauth's DNA to other DNA culled from a cigarette butt, Cromwell's clothing and a shower curtain - all collected in the original investigation.

According to the warrant application, Krauth seemed to obtain hundreds of dollars immediately after Cromwell was killed, despite not having a job.

Before being found dead in his home on March 29, 1992, Cromwell was flush with money due to an insurance settlement stemming from a traffic accident that killed his wife the previous year, court records show. He had withdrawn $1,000 cash a little more than a week before his death but had no money on him when his body was discovered.

The warrant application states that after Cromwell was last seen alive on March 28, Krauth went from being broke to having enough money to buy $60 worth of groceries, pay child support to his ex-wife with two crisp $100 bills and dramatically increase his cocaine purchases.

Krauth told The Forum he got that money by pooling together with a friend to buy bags of cocaine and then "step" on them, claiming they cut the drug with other substances to sell them for a steep profit.

The warrant application also states that a witness in the area saw a red vehicle - one similar to the Pontiac that Krauth drove - parked outside Cromwell's house at about 3 p.m. on March 28, a half-hour after he was last seen alive.

Krauth was hired to help clean out Cromwell's wife's possessions, which the widower couldn't bear to do himself. In the August interview, Krauth said he knew Cromwell and often drank at his house. He admitted he was a "hardcore alcoholic" back then but said he's been sober for more than a decade.

"In my earlier years, I didn't always hang around with the best crowd, but I guess everybody makes some minor mistakes in their life," Krauth said.

Krauth said he was interviewed by police six or seven times about the strangling, interrogations to which he said he willingly submitted. He said police put signs seeking information on the crime all over his neighborhood.

"Little posters all over the neighborhood, every five feet," he recalled.

Bethel Police Capt. Robert Cedergren, who worked the case as a detective in 1992, declined to comment in detail about the ongoing investigation in August, but he said the testing requested was part of a standard review of an open murder case.

Asked why he did not allow a special agent from the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to take a DNA sample as requested Aug. 11, before police got a search warrant, Krauth said he got flustered and that the BCA agent left after he mentioned contacting a lawyer.

The Forum declined to publish details about the case in August because suspects who have not been arrested or charged aren't typically named.