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Grand Rapids man charged in Babbitt stabbing; 29-year-old also accused of Eveleth stabbing last month

Dylan Thomas Peterson reportedly claimed that he was camping in the Tower area, but investigators said witness descriptions and surveillance images helped identify him as man who entered a screenprinting shop and stabbed its owner several times.

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A Grand Rapids accused of stabbing a Babbitt shop owner Saturday night also allegedly stabbed a stranger outside an Eveleth bar last month.

Dylan Thomas Peterson, 29, was charged Wednesday with three felony assault charges after reportedly using an "ice pick-type object" to stab Leah Marie Bodas, 53, multiple times at her NE Time NE Wear screenprinting store.

Another man working in the store, Joel Earl Vandervest, 38, was charged a day earlier for allegedly chasing Peterson out of the shop and firing several shots at his fleeing truck, causing at least one bullet to go into a neighboring residence.

PREVIOUSLY: Babbitt man charged with shooting at fleeing truck after business owner stabbed The 38-year-old was working alongside the victim when the assailant — who has yet to be charged — entered and stabbed the woman several times, according to court documents filed Tuesday.
Peterson, at the time of the incident, was free on bond while facing a pending allegation that he stabbed a man in the leg, seemingly at random, outside of Snickers Pizza in Eveleth on June 4, according to court records. Documents do not provide any clear motive for either alleged attack.

St. Louis County prosecutor Chris Florey on Tuesday cited "significant safety concerns" based on the multiple cases and Peterson's history of assault. Senior Judge Dale Wolf set cash bail at $10,000 or non-cash bail at $100,000.

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Dylan Thomas Peterson.jpg
Dylan Thomas Peterson (2021 handout photo)

According to court documents:

Peterson entered the shop, 31 Central Blvd., around 7:45 p.m. and stabbed Bodas in the leg and stomach. Bodas told authorities that she recognized Peterson while he was disguised and had reported him to authorities on July 1 after he entered her store.

Police said still images from a neighboring business showed a blue truck pulling up to the scene, with Peterson getting out and briefly entering the store; officers could not determine if there were any other people in the vehicle. Vandervest could then be seen giving chase on foot, firing shots at the truck from the parking lot before getting on a motorcycle.

Shortly after 9 p.m., a resident of Township Road 6302, just west of Babbitt, reported that a blue truck had come down his road with a flat tire and leaking gas. The resident said he found an unknown man with the truck before another man arrived in a black Chevrolet Impala and picked him up.

Deputies said they were able to identify both men, determining that Peterson was the driver and registered owner of the Impala.

Just after 10 p.m., Peterson called 911 to report that he was at the Y Store in the Tower area and heard officers were looking for him. Deputies went to the scene and arrested Peterson, who claimed he was camping with his family all day.

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Peterson's girlfriend also contacted Babbitt police on Monday to share a Facebook post that she said would prove he was with her at the Pfeiffer Lake Campground at the time of the attack. While she posted several photographs at 7:35 p.m., including Peterson, investigators said the pictures themselves did not contain timestamp data indicating when they were taken.

Joel Earl Vandervest.jpg
Joel Earl Vandervest (2021 handout photo)

Bodas, when interviewed at a hospital, stated that she believed it was Peterson who stabbed her "because of the suspect's mannerisms, because the suspect wore a green ATV helmet she had seen defendant with previously, and because she knew defendant had '666' tattooed on his left forearm, closer to his wrist, which she saw a portion of during the stabbing."

Deputies said a description given by a third person working inside the store also matched the physical characteristics of Peterson. The complaint does not reveal if or how Peterson was known to the victim or witnesses, other than the reported July 1 incident.

Bodas was taken to Essentia Health-Virginia with what authorities described as serious but non-life-threatening injuries.

Records show that Peterson was previously released from the St. Louis County Jail on June 8 after posting an $80,000 bond in the Eveleth incident.

A criminal complaint in that case alleges that he stabbed James Jon Hill in the thigh outside Snickers, 212 Grant Ave, before running away. Witnesses provided a description of Peterson and said he was shouting, "Come at me! Come at me!" before removing something from his pocket and stabbing Hill.

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Investigators said they used the witnesses' descriptions and surveillance images of a fleeing Chevrolet Impala, to identify and arrest Peterson later that day.

Florey, the prosecutor, already was seeking an above-guideline sentence for Peterson in that case on the basis that he is a "dangerous offender who committed a third violent crime." The defendant has two prior convictions for aggravated first-degree robbery and one for second-degree assault.

In the two pending cases, Peterson is charged with three counts of second-degree assault and two counts of third-degree assault. He is scheduled to be back in court July 19.

Tom Olsen has covered crime and courts for the Duluth News Tribune since 2013. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota Duluth and a lifelong resident of the city. Readers can contact Olsen at 218-723-5333 or tolsen@duluthnews.com.
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