Doug and Gina Dahlen, who pleaded guilty for their role in the disappearance of Samantha and Gianna Rucki, did not report to jail in Dakota County or Grant County to serve their jail sentence yesterday morning, triggering widespread confusion as to their whereabouts.
Based on information uncovered by Missing in Minnesota, it was later determined that the Dahlens had reported to jail in Traverse County. The jail in Traverse County is located in Wheaton, Minnesota and after traveling to the jail late yesterday, Missing in Minnesota was able to confirm that Doug and Gina Dahlen were in custody.
But questions remain unanswered today as to how and why the Dahlens were permitted to report to jail in Traverse County, when they live in Grant County, and were criminally charged and prosecuted in Dakota County.
Dahlens did not report to jail in Dakota County or “home county”
As reported by Missing in Minnesota earlier this month, the Dahlens were each sentenced to one year in jail for their role in the disappearance of the Rucki sisters from Lakeville, Minnesota. The Dahlens’ full jail sentence was stayed, pending the successful completion of two-years probation.
The Dahlens were ordered to serve 31 days in jail – one day for each month the Rucki sisters were held at their ranch in Herman, Minnesota. The Dahlens were scheduled to report to jail on May 16, 2017, at 9AM.
Hours after the 9AM deadline was missed, staff at the Dakota County Jail confirmed the Dahlens were not in custody. Staff with the Minnesota Court Information Office also confirmed the Dahlens were scheduled to report to jail in Dakota County or in their home county, which would be Grant County.
At approximately 1pm yesterday afternoon, Missing in Minnesota discovered information which showed the Dahlens appeared on the inmate list for the Traverse County Jail in Wheaton, Minnesota. The jail is just a few miles away from the border between Minnesota and South Dakota and after traveling from the Twin Cities to Wheaton last evening, staff at the Traverse County Jail confirmed the Dahlens were in custody and had reported to jail on Sunday, May 14, 2017.
The Dahlens are participating in a work-release program through Traverse County, which allows the Dahlens to work during the day at their ranch in Herman, Minnesota, which is located in Grant County. The Dahlens are required to spend the night at the jail in Traverse County.
The booking photos of the Dahlens (pictured above) were released today by the Traverse County Sheriff’s Department.
Missing for 944 days
On November 18, 2015 – 944 days after they disappeared – the girls were found living on a Dahlen’s ranch by law enforcement, headed by the Lakeville Police Department. In total, Samantha and Gianna were held at the White Horse Ranch for 942 days.
David Rucki was awarded full custody of all five of his children in November 2013, while two of his daughters remained missing. David Rucki was reunited with his daughters days after they were found on a rural ranch in northern Minnesota. They live with him and their other siblings at the family’s home in Lakeville.
The Dakota County Attorney’s Office charged four adults for their involvement in the disappearance of the Rucki sisters for 944 days.
The girls’ mother, Sandra Grazzini-Rucki was convicted in July 2016 on six felony counts of depravation of parental rights.
Dede Evavold, who is a friend of Grazzini-Rucki and the Dahlens, was found guilty in September on six felony counts of deprivation of parental rights related to the disappearance the girls.
The decision by Doug and Gina Dahlen to plead guilty ensured that Assistant Dakota County Attorney Kathy Kenna successfully prosecuted all of the people criminally charged related to the disappearance of the Rucki sisters.
Future of the White Horse Ranch in doubt
Doug and Gina Dahlen live at the White Horse Ranch, located in Herman, Minnesota. The 162-acre property which includes the White Horse Ranch has been the subject of a dispute between Dahlen and his second wife, Pamela Nelson.
Court documents from Dahlen’s divorce from Nelson in 2009, the rural Minnesota property was to be sold with the proceeds being divided between Dahlen and Nelson. On November 3, 2014, the court ordered Doug to “vacate the property” if it had not been sold within six months. Doug was also provided with the option of purchasing Nelson’s interest in the property.
According to recent court filings, the listing of the property allowed for the cancellation of an evidentiary hearing that had been scheduled relative to Dahlen’s failure to comply with orders to vacate or buyout Nelson’s interest in the property.
The White Horse Ranch is currently for sale, and the ability of Doug and Gina Dahlen to work with children remains in doubt. Related to the operation of the ranch, Gina Dahlen previously testified in court that the White Horse Ranch has not been licensed to provide therapy to children.
A review of multiple regulatory agencies showed that no licenses or accreditation have been issued to either Doug or Gina Dahlen, or the White Horse Ranch for therapy or treatment of children, or to practice equine therapy.
Check back to Missing in Minnesota next week for additional details about the Dahlens serving their jail sentence in Traverse County.