Dede Evavold was sentenced today in Dakota County to serve 180 days in jail and she will remain on probation for the next eight years for her role in the disappearance of two sisters from Lakeville.
Evavold was charged last December related to her involvement in the disappearance of Samantha and Gianna Rucki who ran from their home on April 19, 2013, during a custody and divorce dispute involving their parents. She was found guilty in September on six felony counts of deprivation of parental rights related to the disappearance the girls.
Judge Karen Asphaug said Evavold “showed no remorse or comprehension” for her actions against the Rucki family, adding that Evavold’s actions “disrupted a family for 944 days.”
Evavold is a close friend and confidant of Sandra Grazzini-Rucki, the mother of the Rucki sisters, who she met during Grazzini-Rucki’s divorce with David Rucki. In July, Grazzini-Rucki was found guilty on six counts of deprivation of parental rights for her involvement in the disappearance of her daughters.
Evavold lives in St. Cloud with her husband Darin and their two children. Evavold’s husband was in the courtroom for the sentencing, as were other members of Evavold’s family. Evavold’s sister wrote a letter to Judge Asphaug claiming that Evavold has an “undiagnosed mental illness”.
Evavold will remain on probation for eight years
Evavold must pay $10,000 to the Minnesota Crime Victims Reparations Board. She must also pay two fines of $944, which represents the 944 days the Rucki sisters were missing.
Evavold is also prohibited from having any contact with minor children and she must undergo a forensic psychological evaluation and cognitive skills evaluation.
Last month, Evavold wrote a threatening handwritten letter claiming “that from jail, I can use the truth” to “completely destroy [the] blackened reputation” of judges, prosecutors, law enforcement, and elected officials from Dakota County.
Evavold’s anticipated release date is January 24, 2017.
Missing for 944 days
On November 18, 2015 – 944 days after they disappeared – the Rucki sisters were found living on a ranch in northern Minnesota by law enforcement, headed by the Lakeville Police Department.
The ranch is owned by Douglas Dahlen and his wife, Gina Dahlen, who have also been criminally charged related to the disappearance of the girls.
David Rucki was awarded full custody of all five of his children in November 2013, while two of his daughters remained missing.
Rucki was reunited with his daughters days after they were found and they live with him at the family’s home in Lakeville. Rucki was in the courtroom for today’s sentencing hearing, but he did not make victim impact statement.
Evavold knew location of missing girls
According to criminal complaints, Samantha and Gianna Rucki were delivered to the Dahlen’s residence in northern Minnesota on April 21, 2013 by Evavold and Grazzini-Rucki.
The criminal trials for the Dahlens’ are scheduled for early next year
During Evavold’s criminal trial, Assistant Dakota County Attorney Kathy Keena provided the jury with numerous examples of how Evavold withheld information from law enforcement and the girls’ father about the location of the missing sisters.
Deputy U.S. Marshal Matthew Palmer testified at Evavold’s trial that he interviewed Evavold at her home on August 25, 2015 about the disappearance of the Rucki sisters.
Palmer said he asked Evavold if the Rucki girls were in danger or dead, in which Evavold responded, “for all I know, they could be.”
Two officers with the Lakeville police department testified that Evavold’s phone contained audio files of the missing sisters talking and pictures taken after they disappeared in 2013 which helped pinpoint their location.
Evavold connected to Michelle MacDonald
Evavold previously served as Michelle MacDonald’s campaign manager for MacDonald’s campaign for the Minnesota Supreme Court in 2014. MacDonald ran for the Minnesota Supreme Court again this year against Justice Natalie Hudson and Evavold was listed as the chair of MacDonald’s campaign until earlier this year.
MacDonald serves as Sandra Grazzini-Rucki’s family court attorney and was labeled as a “person of interest” last year by the Lakeville Police Department in the disappearance of Samantha and Gianna Rucki – a label which law enforcement confirmed has not been removed from MacDonald.
MacDonald was labeled in April 2015 as a “person of interest” by the Lakeville Police Department in the disappearance of Samantha and Gianna Rucki. MacDonald refused to cooperate with the Lakeville Police Department’s investigation into her possible involvement in the disappearance of the sisters – even after public statements from her that she would cooperate in the investigation.
Her criminal defense attorney, Stephen Grigsby, said in 2015 that he would advise MacDonald to not speak with the Lakeville Police Department.
MacDonald attended portions of Grazzini-Rucki’s criminal trial and her sentencing hearing, but MacDonald did not attend any of Evavold’s trial and she was not present in the courtroom today.
Evavold served as her own attorney
Evavold is not an attorney, but is an activist, and also ran a blog focused on exposing what Evavold and her supporters believe are injustices and corruption in the judicial system.
She served as her own attorney during her criminal trial. Evavold did not offer any evidence on her behalf, nor did Evavold cross-examine any witness or give an opening or closing statement during her trial.
Evavold is an strong opponent of family courts and attended numerous court hearings in Dakota County involving the Rucki family, providing assistance to Grazzini-Rucki and MacDonald.
Judge Karen Asphaug prohibited Evavold from mentioning the Rucki family in any social media postings and she cannot harass the family. Evavold is also prohibited from being involved directly or indirectly as an advocate in family court cases.