Doug and Gina Dahlen will be sentenced tomorrow at 9AM at the Dakota County Judicial Center in Hastings for their role in the disappearance of two sisters from Lakeville, Minnesota. On April 19, 2013, Samantha and Gianna Rucki disappeared during a custody and divorce dispute involving their parents – Sandra Grazzini-Rucki and David Rucki.
The sisters were taken near their home in Lakeville by their mother in violation of a court order and were later driven to the Dahlen’s ranch in northern Minnesota by their mother, Grazzini-Rucki and her friend, Dede Evavold on April 21, 2013.
Doug and Gina Dahlen, who pleaded guilty in January, admitted in court that they knew David Rucki had been awarded custody of his children and that they failed to contact to David Rucki or law enforcement that the missing Rucki kids were living on their ranch. The Dahlens had each been charged with six felony counts for their role in the disappearance of the Rucki sisters.
By pleading guilty to one count, the remaining counts against the Dahlens were dismissed.
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.
On Saturday, the Facebook page for the White Horse Ranch published on odd post, proclaiming that “Spring is here and so are the kids!!”
The post included numerous pictures of children at the ranch.
The Dahlens are currently prohibited from having any minor children stay overnight at the White Horse Ranch without the permission of children’s legal guardians.
Doug and Gina Dahlen, nor their attorneys responded to a request for comment late last week about their future work with children or the operation of the White Horse Ranch.
Dahlens accuse Grazzini-Rucki and Evavold of lying
Court documents filed last week by attorneys for Doug and Gina Dahlen alleged the Dahlens were misled by Grazzini-Rucki and Evavold about the circumstances surrounding the disappearance of Samantha and Gianna Rucki.
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.
Grazzini-Rucki was convicted in July 2016 on six felony counts of deprivation of parental rights.
Evavold 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 ensures that Assistant Dakota County Attorney Kathy Kenna successfully prosecuted all of the people criminally charged related to the disappearance of the Rucki sisters.
Please follow Missing in Minnesota on Twitter for live updates tomorrow from Dahlen’s sentencing hearing at the Dakota County Judicial Center in Hastings.