Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Violent father murders mother during court-ordered visitation (Mankato, Minnesota)

Dad JOEL MUNT is a special kind of abuser--the kind who seeks out a foreign bride because he knows that women who don't speak fluent English and are foreign to U.S. culture are easier to abuse with impunity. But his wife resisted his abuse, and eventually filed for a domestic violence order of protection.

Not to worry for Daddy though, because he sounds like a master of manipulation (the kind who seek out foreign brides often are). He countered by filing an order of protection against HER--just to muddy the waters, you know. Plus, he was successful in finding idiotic social workers and therapists who happily smeared her with vague "anti-social personality" accusations--the kinds of accusations that are easily explained by Russian cultural differences, poverty, stress, and trauma. For a while he even got temporary custody.

But finally the various "experts" figured out a little of what was going on--at least enough to determine that the mom wasn't the "monster" that Dad made her out to be. In fact, serious questions were now being raised about Daddy's "lack of empathy" around the children, and the children's "anxiety" about being around Dad. Nevertheless, Dad still got joint legal custody and weekend visitation--until he refused to return the children to their mother after a visit.

Then Mom was awarded sole custody and Dad got 2 hours of visitation a week.

But ANY visitation with an abuser is too much. What Dad managed to do was turn the visitation into an opportunity to gun down and murder his ex-wife--while their young children--ages 7, 5, and 4--were in their mother's car. Daddy apparently forced the mother's car off the road, smashing his own SUV in the process. Daddy then hijacked a second SUV at gunpoint and took the kids with him. When he was arrested the children were with him in the vehicle.

At least in this case, it was clear to even the casual neighbor that Daddy had a few loose nuts. Sounds like the neighbor did a better job of sizing up Daddy than the parade of clueless therapists, social workers, and other assorted court morons associated with this case.


An online match, a bitter divorce ... a violent death
Burnsville man accused of ex-wife's shooting death in Mankato park

By Nick Ferraro and Frederick Melo
Pioneer Press
Updated: 03/29/2010 11:56:57 PM CDT

Suffering from depression and anxiety, a Burnsville computer consultant created a Web site to rant against his former wife and a judge who oversaw their divorce.

Joel Munt claimed on the site that Svetlana Munt had odd habits, including "sucking the brains out of raw fish," and that the judge was "corrupt" and the child's legal advocate was a "rabid dog (who) needs to be removed from power."

But in April 2009, a Nicollet County judge found the 32-year-old woman was the more mentally capable of the two and awarded her sole custody of the couple's three young children.

On Sunday, Joel Munt, 33, was arrested in the shooting death of his former wife, whose body was found Sunday afternoon in a car at Rasmussen Woods park in Mankato, Minn., where she lived with the children.

Joel Munt's mother, Joan Munt, said Sundays were his visitation day with the kids. "We never would have thought this would happen," she said.

Munt was jailed in Blue Earth County on probable cause second-degree murder, Mankato police said in a statement. He was scheduled to appear before a judge today.

Munt was arrested without incident after a Blue Earth County Sheriff's Office deputy pulled over a car-jacked sport-utility vehicle. Police said Munt took the SUV at gunpoint.

Three children were with Munt when he was arrested, the Mankato Free Press reported Monday on its Web site. According to the Web site, the children were in the car with Svetlana Munt when she was shot. The couple's children are a 7-year-old girl and two boys, ages 5 and 4, Joan Munt said.

Court records paint a stark picture of Joel Munt's personal and financial situation, which spiraled downward after he filed for divorce in Faribault County in December 2006.

The case was moved to Nicollet County in April 2007 and dragged on for another two years, with Joel Munt's attorneys repeatedly filing to remove themselves.

In October 2008, Joel Munt filed to proceed "in forma pauperis" — "in the form of a pauper" — effectively waiving filing fees because of his financial troubles. He ultimately represented himself in court.

From 2007 to 2009, judges in Nicollet, Faribault and Dakota counties awarded at least four financial judgments against Joel Munt on behalf of five creditors.

Nicollet County Judge Todd Westphal, who finalized the divorce, held Joel Munt responsible for the more than $100,000 in debt the couple had accrued.


About 11:50 a.m. Sunday, Mankato officers responded to reports of shots fired at Rasmussen Woods. It was reported that a man with a gun was in the park's cul-de-sac area. Police said Joel Munt fled the scene before officers arrived.

According to police, an SUV had collided with a midsized passenger car and forced it off the road and into small trees. The SUV's engine was running, and the transmission was in gear. Its rear tire was still spinning as the SUV pinned the car against the trees.

Svetlana Munt was found face down in the car and unresponsive. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

Witnesses told police a man with a gun had fled the park just before officers arrived. They said the man was traveling south in another SUV.

The gunman reportedly had commandeered the second SUV from a good Samaritan who had stopped at the crash scene.

Munt was arrested on County Road 90. A handgun and other evidence were seized.

The three children were in protective custody Monday.


Joan Munt said her son met Svetlana, who was born and raised in Russia, through the Internet. According to divorce documents, the couple married in November 1998 in Russia and had three children while living in Minnesota Lake, west of Albert Lea. They separated around October 2006.

In 2006, shortly before divorce proceedings began, Svetlana Munt filed for a domestic abuse order for protection against her husband. He countered by filing one against her.

In December 2006, a judge dismissed both orders and awarded temporary custody to Svetlana Munt. Her husband received temporary custody in April 2007, but a guardian ad litem reviewed psychological evaluations of both parents and concluded neither parent could provide "appropriate care for the children."

In 2008, both received joint legal custody. The children stayed with their mother in Mankato most weekdays for school.

That changed after September 2008, however, because of an incident in which Joel Munt refused to return them to their mother after a visit. After that, he was allowed two hours per week with his children.

In December 2007, a licensed social worker concluded the children were "securely attached" to their mother, "anxious" around their father and "uncomfortable" around his live-in fiancee, Tracy Schantzen. The social worker found that Joel Munt showed a "lack of empathy" toward the children.

According to a court-ordered psychological evaluation, he also was depressed and uncomfortable around people and "hypersensitive" to the judgment of others.

It found he "has marked discomfort around others leading to relationships occurring primarily via computer contact."


On his Web site, DragonEmpire.ws, Munt expressed concerns about his ex-wife's behavior and mental health, some of which was echoed by court-appointed social workers and therapists. During a brief stay at a Mankato women's shelter, she hoarded food and used "vessels other than a toilet for urinating," according to court documents.

A psychological evaluation by a therapist also found she exhibited "anti-social personality traits ... with rapidly shifting emotions ... (including) dishonesty, failing to meet the children's needs and a lack of remorse or concern."

With time, however, the court found her parenting skills improved. Judge Westphal concluded in April 2009 that she was not the "monster" her ex-husband made her out to be.

The court also expressed concern about Joel Munt's appearance and mental health.

On Monday, a neighbor, Nathan Estep, said "he always got kind of a weird vibe" from Munt and that he rarely saw him outside the house in daylight hours.

"He always had on some sort of alien or 'Star Trek'-type T-shirts. ... His hair was always messed up," he said. "Every time I talked to him ... he would look at the ground."

On Monday, Schantzen said she is "just still in shock. I did not see this coming at all."

She declined to comment further, but in a note posted on the door of their home, she directed reporters to Munt's Web site.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. Nick Ferraro can be reached at 651-228-2173. Frederick Melo can be reached at 651-228-2172.