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'Soul collector' facing charges -- Fergus Falls man accused of trying to kill neighbor

Timothy Eugene Peterson

A self-described "soul collector" and "medicine man" is accused of trying to cut off the toes and scalp of a former mayoral candidate in Fergus Falls, Minn.

Timothy Eugene Peterson, 42, is charged in Otter Tail County District Court with attempted murder and assault in connection with the alleged attack late Saturday night and early Sunday morning, according to a criminal complaint filed Tuesday.

He's accused of trying to kill Ivan "Skip" Mallas, a neighbor three doors down from Peterson in Fergus Falls who ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 2008.

According to the criminal complaint:

Mallas told police Peterson came to his home holding a knife and a two-liter bottle of Coke that may have had alcohol in it, entering the garage where Mallas lives.

While stabbing the floor with the knife and chanting, Peterson told Mallas he'd killed 13 people and, though he professed he did not want to, he was going to kill him.

Mallas told police that Peterson said: "I have come to collect your soul, I own it, I am a soul collector, I want a souvenir," according to court records. He also claimed to be a medicine man, Mallas said.

After informing Mallas of his intent to kill him, Peterson tried to cut off his toes, Mallas later told cops. When he resisted, Peterson turned the blade to his hairline and told him he was going to scalp him before holding the knife to Mallas' throat.

Mallas said he was able to get his hands between the knife and his throat, sustaining numerous cuts. Peterson then pointed the knife at his chest, Mallas grabbed the blade and a struggle ensued.

"I believed he was trying to kill me and it took everything to defend myself," Mallas is quoted as telling police in the complaint.

Mallas told police he and Peterson are not friends.

Police arrested Peterson after tracking a blood trail to his residence, where he was found wearing overalls and a thermal shirt stained with blood and a bloody knife sitting on his couch, according to police.

Officers claim that Peterson admitted Mallas' blood was on him but told them, "We were just wrestling."

Peterson is being held in the Otter Tail County Jail. A phone message left for him at the jail on Wednesday was not returned. A phone number listed for Mallas was out of service.

At Peterson's initial appearance in court Tuesday, bail was set at $500,000 without conditions or, with conditions, $100,000 in cash or a $300,000 bond.

His court appearance was set for Jan. 24.

Peterson has no known violent criminal record in Minnesota, according to a statewide record search. He does have five convictions for disorderly conduct, including three in Otter Tail County last fall.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Roepke at (701) 241-5535