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Mark Stodghill, Duluth News Tribune, Published April 09 2012

Bail set for man accused of stalking wife through four states

DULUTH, Minn. - Bail was set at $450,000 Monday for a man who is accused of stalking his wife and children through four states, assaulting and threatening to kill her, and then having a man kidnap her and her three children from the Safe Haven Shelter here.

The woman said her husband “had been shooting up steroids’’ and she couldn’t take his abuse anymore when she fled with her children, first from Utah to North Dakota, then to Montana, then back to North Dakota and finally Duluth, staying at shelters, with acquaintances, friends and at motels along the way.

Her husband, Nathaniel Michael Jaffe-Norris, 26, was arraigned in State District Court in Duluth on Monday on charges of kidnapping, pattern of stalking, and four counts of aiding and abetting kidnapping. He has prior convictions for terrorizing, being a felon in possession of a firearm and battery.

Judge Mark Munger set the high bail at the request of Assistant St. Louis County Attorney Kristen Swanson.

“The state and law enforcement have grave concern over the safety and well-being of this family and the risk posed to them by the defendant,’’ Swanson said after the hearing.

According to the criminal complaint:

On Wednesday, the woman left the Safe Haven Shelter and went to a church. She said that while outside with the children a man she knew only by the name of “Kevin,’’ approached her. She said he was an acquaintance of her husband’s. The man grabbed her 4-year-old son’s hand and walked him toward a car. She asked him what he was doing. He said that he was taking the boy and she needed to make two phone calls – one to her husband to tell him that she and the children were going to go with Kevin, and the other phone call to the shelter to tell them she was OK.

The woman tried to reason with the man, but ultimately complied with the demands out of concern for her own and her children’s safety.

She said they rode with the abductor and she was ordered to telephone her husband every hour while she was on the road. Her husband told her that Kevin was taking her to Detroit Lakes, where she needed to check into a hotel and “stay in the room, holding still’’ until he arrived. Jaffe-Norris arrived and told his wife that a friend was coming to rent a car for them and they were leaving the state. He had not driven his own car to the hotel because he said she had called the cops on him and they knew what vehicle he drives.

On Thursday morning, Jaffe-Norris was outside the hotel smoking a cigarette while waiting for a taxi to come to the room to pick up his family. Law enforcement arrived instead. He was taken into custody by Detroit Lakes police, the Red River Valley SWAT team and Becker County sheriff’s deputies.

The woman and her children had been referred to the Safe Haven Shelter in Duluth by the Fargo YWCA domestic abuse shelter. The woman told police that she and Jaffe-Norris were married in February of last year. She is from Bountiful, Utah. They have one child in common and the woman has two other children. The children range in age from 2 to 6.

She said she had left the family’s Utah residence in March because she “could not take the drugs and abuse anymore.” She traveled to Williston, N.D., to stay with a friend. Jaffe-Norris tracked her down there. He slapped her and told her that she and the children would be returning with him to Utah.

The next morning, she sent her husband out to buy diapers and while he was gone she packed up the children and fled to Bismarck to stay with another acquaintance.

The woman told police that her husband apparently was tracking her bank cards and banking activity and was able to locate her in Bismarck. Jaffe-Norris then drove the family to Fargo. While in a park there, the woman received a phone call which made the defendant angry. He took the phone away and repeatedly slapped her in the face, the complaint alleges. Police were called by an onlooker and when they arrived Jaffe-Norris fled.

The woman then took her children to a women’s shelter in Billings, Mont. The defendant returned to Bountiful, where he reportedly brutally assaulted the woman’s brother in an attempt to find out where his wife was. He knocked out some of the brother’s teeth.

Jaffe-Norris traveled to Billings and found his wife and children at a Pizza Hut restaurant. He placed her and the children in the car. A woman from the shelter attempted to stop him and he assaulted her, according to the complaint.

The defendant drove the family back to Bismarck. On March 22, he is accused of assaulting his wife in front of the three children at a Motel 6 in Bismarck. She said he choked her, threatened to kill her and she believed she was going to die. He was charged and convicted, but spent only four days in jail. The woman and her children traveled to Fergus Falls by bus before he was released.

The complaint alleges that when he got out of jail, Jaffe-Norris told personnel at the bus station that his wife had kidnapped their children and they provided him information about the bus route.

When the woman and her children arrived at the Fergus Falls bus station, the defendant was there waiting for them. He forced them into his car and drove to Detroit Lakes, Minn. While her husband was in a McDonald’s there, the woman contacted a friend to pick her up. She took her children back to Fargo.

On April 2, Jaffe-Norris found his wife at a Motel 6 in Fargo. He kicked in the door and attempted to grab her, but she was able to dial the motel operator. She said her husband fled. He has pending charges in Fargo related to the incident.

The shelter in Fargo then put the woman in touch with Safe Haven Shelter in Duluth.

The woman said that her husband has access to many firearms, including an AK 47, which he had brandished at her. She said she believes he is capable of seriously injuring or killing her and the children.

Duluth police Sgt. Jeremiah Graves said the investigation is continuing. Prosecutor Swanson said no decision has yet been made on whether anyone else will be charged in the case.