On Sunday, friends, family and community members mourned the loss of Christopher Panitzke. On Tuesday, a crowd of 600 filled Granite Falls Lutheran Church to celebrate the life of Kara Monson. Today, the search for the individual responsible for the shooting deaths of both victims continues.
In the wake of memorial and funeral services, the community is still coming to terms with the double homicide of Monson, 26, and Panitzke, 28, formerly of Redwood Falls.
"Our family is grieving the loss of Kara,'' said her mother, Patrice Monson in a statement issued by the family. "I would like to thank the public for their concern and outpouring of support."
The first murder in Granite Falls in more than a decade years resulted a mixture of grief and fear the past week. Rumors and hearsay have been rampant with the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension slow to release information and those taking to social media seemingly all too willing to propagate any possibility as fact.
Monson was found dead of apparent gunshot wounds last Monday, and Panitzke, friend of Monson’s, was critically injured but managed to phone for help prior to being taken to the Granite Falls Hospital. Later he was transported to Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis.
Both Monson and Panitzke were parents to young daughters who were not in the home at the time of the incident.
Authorities are still searching for Andrew Joseph Dikken, 28, of Granite Falls, in connection with the homicides. Dikken was last photographed at Casey’s General Store shortly after the murder. His pickup has been found south of the Minnesota river valley just east of County Road 7. A tip that suggested he was hiding out in a hotel in Glenwood turned up empty.
“We just continue to search and continue to follow leads, and so far we’re coming up empty,” said Granite Falls Police Chief Russ Blue. We’re basically following up on anything that has a shred of hope in it.
Amidst the backdrop of Granite Falls Lutheran, the fear and grief so predominant a few days earlier seemed to make way for the celebration of Monson’s life, in particular her vibrant spirit and the ability to see the good in people.
A memorial fund has been established in Kara and her daughter, Poppy’s, name at Granite Falls Bank.
It is asked that any individuals with information on Dikken’s whereabouts contact Granite Falls Police, the Yellow Medicine County Sheriff, or dial 911.