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DNA match leads to arrest in 2017 death of woman in Hibbing

Police say Blake Stangel was always a suspect in the death, but they didn't have enough evidence to charge until an unrelated arrest last week.
Credit: St. Louis County Jail

HIBBING, Minn. — A Hibbing man is now charged in the death of a 71-year-old woman in 2017, after investigators say a DNA match identified him as her killer. 

The St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office details how 51-year-old Blake Andrew Stangel was linked to the death of Courtney Lee Fenske in November 2017. Fenske's body was found in her Hibbing home after a welfare check was requested by her mail carrier at the time. Mail had stacked up, and the carrier became concerned. 

An autopsy showed that Fenske was strangled to death. Police had identified Stangel, a former renter at Fenske’s home, as a suspect but they never had the evidence to arrest him. That changed on May 24 in Hibbing, when authorities took him into custody on unrelated charges. 

Authorities say Stangel agreed to provide a DNA sample, which was tested with DNA obtained from the crime scene by the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) Crime Lab and found to be a match.

Stangel has been formally arraigned and charged with second-degree Manslaughter in the death of Courtney Fenske. He is currently being held in the St. Louis County Jail with bail set at $226,000. Stangel's next court appearance is scheduled for June 10.

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