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Menahga man indicted on murder charges in strangulation death

PARK RAPIDS, Minn. – A Hubbard County grand jury has indicted a man on murder charges in the strangulation death of 19-year-old Kiela Knowles.

Harley Leritz, 21, of Menahga is accused of first- and second-degree murder.

Hubbard County prosecutors presented the case to the grand jury, which returned the two-count indictment Thursday. The indictment replaces a criminal complaint that was filed earlier.

Police said surveillance video showed Leritz going in and out of Knowles’ apartment in Park Rapids several times on Feb. 23. The two, who attended Park Rapids Area High School, had just reconnected through Facebook.

The morning of Feb. 24, Knowles’ father found her dead in her apartment. She was in bed with a pillow over her head, police said.

Leritz showed up at her apartment later that afternoon and was arrested by officers processing the crime scene. He said the death was accidental, according to police.

Leritz was arraigned Thursday, and his bail was set at $1.5 million without conditions and $1 million with conditions. His next court appearance is slated for July 7.

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