PRESTON, Minn. (AP) — A Minnesota woman is accused of trying to deceive authorities into believing her identical twin sister was the driver who hit a horse-drawn Amish buggy last fall, killing two of the four children inside.
Samantha Jo Petersen, 35, of Kellogg, was charged in Fillmore County District Court on Monday with 21 counts including criminal vehicular homicide and driving under the influence of drugs.
The Sept. 25 crash killed 7-year-old Wilma Miller and 11-year-old Irma Miller, while their 9-year-old brother and 13-year-old sister were seriously injured. They were riding to school at the time. The horse also died. Both sisters were at the scene when deputies arrived, and the defendant’s twin insisted to one deputy that she was the driver who hit the buggy, the criminal complaint alleges.
Petersen was charged by summons and is due in court March 25. Court records don’t list an attorney who could speak on her behalf, and messages left at phone numbers listed for her were not immediately returned Tuesday.
Text messages obtained by law enforcement show that Petersen tried to get her twin sister to take the fall for the crash because she was high on methamphetamine and feared going to prison, the complaint alleges. But their alleged cover story quickly unraveled as investigators dug into the case, the complaint shows.
Petersen has a criminal history in Minnesota that includes two convictions for driving under the influence and one for giving a false name to police. Her twin has not been charged.
According to the criminal complaint, Petersen’s blood tested positive for methamphetamine, amphetamine and THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.
Squad car video from the first deputy to arrive suggests that the women traded clothes at the crash scene, the complaint says. The second deputy left his voice recorder going while the uncharged sister was in his squad car.
According to the complaint, she can he heard telling Petersen while the deputy was away, “I think one of the guys is onto me but I really don’t care,” and “there’s no way they would ever know the difference between the two of us so they can’t tell.”
Petersen was a baker at a nearby supermarket. The district manager for the chain told investigators that Petersen had messaged him and human resources, saying that she had messed up and was under the influence of meth at the time of the crash, the complaint says. It also says she told an HR person “I just killed two Amish people; they were kids.”
Investigators found a search made with her phone on the question, “What happens if you get in an accident with an Amish buggy and kill two people,” the complaint says.