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Rochester woman mourns child’s father killed in Wis. quadruple homicide

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Rochester woman mourns child’s father killed in Wis. quadruple homicide

ROCHESTER, Minn. — Mackenzie Fjerstad was at her home in Rochester, Minnesota, surrounded by family and friends, when she found out her 2-year-old daughter Maelahni was never going to be with her father again.

Fjerstad, 22, learned Monday afternoon, Sept. 13, that her ex-boyfriend and Maelahni’s father, Matthew Pettus, was one of four people found fatally shot Sunday, Sept. 12, in an abandoned SUV in a cornfield in Dunn County, Wis.

“I just broke,” Fjerstad said. “I just broke down bawling. I’ve never felt this type of pain before. Ever.”

Pettus, 26, and the three other victims — his sister Jasmine Christine Sturm, 30, of St. Paul; Nitosha Lee Flug-Presley, 30, of Stillwater, Minnesota, and Loyace Foreman III, 35, of St. Paul — were found in the SUV by a farmer Sunday afternoon. The night before, they had been 65 miles west at a bar in St. Paul, where Pettus was living, Dunn County Sheriff Kevin Bygd said during a news conference on Tuesday, Sept. 14.

Authorities believe the four “were randomly brought to” Dunn County.

Bygd said there is no connection between the victims and Dunn County, and at this time there are no indications the motive behind the killings involved drugs or organized crime activity.

Fjerstad met Pettus in Rochester in 2017 while in line at a Taco Bell drive-thru. Pettus was working there and the two were flirting while she was waiting for her food, she said.

Matthew Pettus, 26, of St. Paul, with his daughter, Maelahni. (Courtesy of Mackenzie Fjerstad)

“I did a Facebook status like, ‘Oh, whoever the Taco Bell drive-thru guy is is pretty cute,’” she said. “And then he found me on Facebook a week later.”

That started a three-year relationship that led to the birth of their daughter in 2019. They separated in 2020 and Pettus moved to St. Paul, but that didn’t stop him from being an active part of Maelahni’s life.

“He was great. He was always supportive. He was always making sure she had more than she needed. He would take her unnecessarily shopping,” Fjerstad said. “He always wanted to do something with her … He just always made sure she had everything she needed and she loves him so much.

“It definitely made me feel lucky that I was blessed with my child’s father actually wanting to be there.”

Fjerstad also described Pettus as a “stubborn” person, but also welcoming to others. Pettus did have a criminal record in Olmsted County.

“He struggled with a lot of things, but no matter what, he tried. And he was there,” Fjerstad said.

Pettus’ sister, Jasmine Sturm, also played an involved role when it came to her niece.

“(Maelahni) loved her auntie,” Fjerstad said. “Every time she saw her, she would get excited. Jasmine did everything she could to help me, too. She would take Maelahni sometimes on weekends and just take her out.”

Even after they separated, Fjerstad said she was comfortable reaching out to Pettus and always wanted him to be a part of her and Maelahni’s lives.

“No matter what happened, I knew that I could call him and cry to him about something that didn’t even involve him or my child,” she said. “He was there … He was my first love. I’ve always cared about him and I told him ‘No matter what, I’m always going to care about you and always have a love for you. You’re the father of my child. I don’t want anything to happen to you.’”

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Just what are “The Facebook Papers,” anyway?

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Just what are “The Facebook Papers,” anyway?

The Facebook Papers project represents a unique collaboration among 17 American news organizations, including The Associated Press. Journalists from a variety of newsrooms, large and small, worked together to gain access to thousands of pages of internal company documents obtained by Frances Haugen, the former Facebook product manager-turned-whistleblower.

A separate consortium of European news outlets had access to the same set of documents, and members of both groups began publishing content related to their analysis of the materials at 7 a.m. EDT on Monday, Oct. 25. That date and time was set by the partner news organizations to give everyone in the consortium an opportunity to fully analyze the documents, report out relevant details, and to give Facebook’s public relations staff ample time to respond to questions and inquiries raised by that reporting.

Each member of the consortium pursued its own independent reporting on the document contents and their significance. Every member also had the opportunity to attend group briefings to gain information and context about the documents.

The launch of The Facebook Papers project follows similar reporting by The Wall Street Journal, sourced from the same documents, as well as Haugen’s appearance on the CBS television show “60 Minutes” and her Oct. 5 Capitol Hill testimony before a U.S. Senate subcommittee.

The papers themselves are redacted versions of disclosures that Haugen has made over several months to the Securities and Exchange Commission, alleging Facebook was prioritizing profits over safety and hiding its own research from investors and the public.

These complaints cover a range of topics, from its efforts to continue growing its audience, to how its platforms might harm children, to its alleged role in inciting political violence. The same redacted versions of those filings are being provided to members of Congress as part of its investigation. And that process continues as Haugen’s legal team goes through the process of redacting the SEC filings by removing the names of Facebook users and lower-level employees and turns them over to Congress.

The Facebook Papers consortium will continue to report on these documents as more become available in the coming days and weeks.

“AP regularly teams up with other news organizations to bring important journalism to the world,” said Julie Pace, senior vice president and executive editor. “The Facebook Papers project is in keeping with that mission. In all collaborations, AP maintains its editorial independence.”

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Denver weather: A summer cameo on Monday followed by rain

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Denver weather: A summer cameo on Monday followed by rain

Denver will get a hint of summer on Monday, with Halloween less than a week away.

According to the National Weather Service in Boulder, Denver will near the record high of 84 degrees on Monday. Forecasters call for an 80-degree high under increasingly sunny skies. Temperatures will drop to 49 degrees overnight. The dry weather has pushed the NWS to issue a Red Flag Warning for parts of the Palmer Divide, Denver, Adams and Arapahoe Counties.

Denver will be wet on Tuesday, with a storm system bringing winds and precipitation. Mild and dry conditions will be replaced by stronger, cool winds with gusts up to 60 mph over the foothills. The mountains are going to see some snow, which will linger on the ridges into Wednesday morning.

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Morning fire destroys haunted house in Parker

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Morning fire destroys haunted house in Parker

An early morning fire engulfed Flat Acres Farm in Parker, destroying a haunted house and lighting up the sky with flames.

The fire was first reported after 1 a.m. at 11321 Dransfeldt Road on Monday, according to South Metro Fire Rescue on Twitter.

More than 50 firefighters were called to the late blaze involving hay bales, south of Twenty Mile Road and west of Parker Road. Firefighters said a glow is visible from a distance, with smoke drifting north. The smoke might be visible for much of the morning.

The fire was contained around 2 a.m., but the scene remains active, with crews saying the fire will burn for some time.

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