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Charges: 3 adults, 2 minors stole tractor from Wessington Springs murder suspect, planned to sell it

Caffee is currently being held on no bond after allegedly shooting and killing his wife’s grandmother during a confrontation in her home on Oct. 24, 2021. He faces up to life in prison.

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Mitch Caffee is escorted into the Jerauld County Courthouse for arraignment on Friday, Oct. 29, 2021, in Wessington Springs.
Mitchell Republic file photo
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WESSINGTON SPRINGS, S.D. — At least three adults from Redfield are facing serious criminal charges after the trio, alongside two minors, allegedly stole a John Deere tractor from a murder suspect awaiting trial and planned to sell it, pocketing the cash.

Bryce Knigge and Johnathan Shottenkirk, both 22, and Maddyson Zens, 18, all of Redfield, were each indicted by a Jerauld County grand jury on one count of grand theft and one count of criminal conspiracy. Shottenkirk, an apparent ring leader of the three, was also charged with criminal solicitation and aiding, abetting or advising a crime.

According to court documents, two other individuals, who are identified only by their initials, were also involved in the alleged conspiracy.

Officials say that on Dec. 15, 2021, the group, acting as one, stole a John Deere Model 6130 tractor that belonged jointly to Mitch Caffee and his wife, of Wessington Springs, with the intent to return it to Redfield for storage until it could be sold.

During the act, Knigge allegedly traveled from Redfield to Jerauld County with another individual, R.B., who could drive the tractor. The two were able to start the tractor and drive it several miles away, before it was left in a field approach after the windshield was broken out.

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The next day, Zens allegedly traveled back to Jerauld County with R.B. and another individual, B.Z., to load the tractor onto a trailer and complete the trip back to Redfield.

Between Dec. 16, 2021, and Feb. 3, 2022, Knigge, Shottenkirk and Zens allegedly arranged for the tractor to be hidden in a building on Knigge’s girlfriend’s property until it could be sold. Court documents say all proceeds would have gone to Shottenkirk.

Though the indictment does not give a specific value of the tractor, a salesman at Kibble Equipment in Huron, roughly 40 miles to the northeast, said that model of tractor will typically sell between $80,000 and $100,000, if new. A model year of Caffee’s tractor in question was not provided in court documents.

The plan was originally hatched by Shottenkirk, court documents say, who also oversaw most of the execution.

According to eCourts, the state’s online court database, Knigge and Zens now only face one count of conspiracy to commit grand theft, a Class 5 felony punishable by up to five years in prison and fines as high as $10,000. Knigge has pleaded not guilty, while Zens has not yet entered a plea. Both will appear July 20 for a review hearing.

Shottenkirk’s charges were reduced to only include conspiracy to commit grand theft and criminal solicitation. Both Class 5 felonies, he faces a maximum of 10 years in prison and up to $20,000 in fines. After pleading not guilty to both, he’ll next appear for a motions hearing on July 20.

Jerauld County Sheriff Jason Weber said no juveniles were charged in relation to the case.

Caffee is currently being held on no bond after allegedly shooting and killing his wife’s grandmother during a confrontation in her home on Oct. 24, 2021. He’s pleaded not guilty to the charges relating to the death, and is heading to a jury trial in early August. He faces up to life in prison.

Related Topics: CRIME AND COURTSTHEFT
Dunteman covers general and breaking news as well as crime in the Mitchell Republic's 17-county coverage area. He grew up in Harrisburg, and has lived in South Dakota for over 20 years. He joined the Mitchell Republic in June 2021 after earning his bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota Duluth. He can be reached at HDunteman@MitchellRepublic.com, or on Twitter @HRDunt.
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