Man accused in brutal 1974 stabbing death in Minnesota has long criminal history
Algene Vossen, 79, awaits trial on a felony murder charge related to the 1974 killing of Mae Herman. News reports and law enforcement records show an extensive history of harassment, public intoxication and assault.
WILLMAR, Minn. — The man accused of killing Mabel "Mae" Agnes Boyer Herman during a 1974 nighttime stabbing frenzy in Willmar, Minn., has a long history with law enforcement, according to multiple news articles and law enforcement records.
Algene Vossen, 79, was arrested July 23 in Sioux Falls, S.D., following a review of the Herman homicide case by the Willmar Police Department earlier this year that connected Vossen to the death through DNA evidence. He was then extradited from South Dakota to Willmar, where he faces one felony count of murder in the second degree — with intent not premeditated.
This is not Vossen's first brush with the law: He has had dozens of jail and prison stints dating back to at least 1963.
According to the Minnesota Department of Corrections, Vossen had three state prison stretches from 1963 to 1973 in Minnesota, including a three-year sentence for grand larceny in Traverse County, a five-year sentence for burglary in Kandiyohi County and a three-year sentence for attempted burglary in Kandiyohi County, though Vossen was paroled a little after one year for the attempted burglary.
Vossen was questioned by law enforcement during the original investigation into the January 1974 death of Herman but soon left for Iowa to marry his girlfriend Lydia Marsh on Oct. 19, 1974, in Dallas Center, Iowa.
Dozens of Iowa cases
Law enforcement records show Vossen reporting multiple addresses in Iowa before moving to Sioux Falls in 1993.
A Forum News Service review found dozens of criminal cases against Vossen in Polk County, Iowa, alone, most involving intoxication.
There are multiple cases in which Vossen was convicted of “window peeking,” making obscene phone calls and indecent exposure in the Polk County area, including a September 1981 incident when Vossen was arrested and convicted of five charges related to an incident at the home of the then-Polk County Treasurer Fred Horner.
According to law enforcement records, Vossen was accused of looking into the Horner residence’s windows at Horner's wife, leaving and then making obscene phone calls to her.
Vossen’s record of harassment extends back to at least 1979 in Iowa:
- In April 1979, Vossen was convicted of making harassing phone calls to a residence in Johnston, Iowa.
- In November 1979, Vossen was convicted of trespassing on multiple properties in Urbandale and convicted of indecent exposure “by exposing his genitals to masturbate,” according to law enforcement records.
- In November 1982, Vossen was convicted of “window peeking” and public intoxication in Des Moines. According to the arresting document, “Vossen was intoxicated and looking in windows ... Vossen has a strong odor of liquor, slurred speech and unstable balance.”
- In March of 1983, Vossen was convicted of criminal trespass and harassment at an address in Des Moines which included Vossen making 17 phone calls of an obscene nature to a residence.
Vossen was sentenced to 30 days in jail for this offense and ordered to report to a hospital for treatment. Most of Vossen’s convictions in Iowa included fines ranging from $25 to $100 or two to five days in jail.
Vossen has also been convicted of multiple assaults, some on police officers, including a January 1982 incident in Johnston, Iowa, where Vossen punched an officer in the face and fled the scene. Vossen was sentenced to 30 days in jail for this incident but received credit for time served, leaving no additional jail time to serve after his conviction.
In a July 1989 incident in Johnston, Iowa, Vossen again assaulted a police officer while intoxicated. Vossen was convicted of assault and public intoxication which garnered a $50 fine for the assault and a $25 fine for public intoxication.
After moving to South Dakota in 1993, Vossen was convicted of two driving under the influence charges, Vossen had at least one driving under the influence conviction in Iowa.
On Sept. 11, the Kandiyohi County Attorney’s Office submitted a substantial packet to Vossen’s defense attorney Kent Marshall which included more than 150 individually named documents that include hundreds of pages, according to court records.
The packet included multiple police reports, Vossen’s medical history, the original Mae Herman investigation file and the 2020 cold case review.
The documents submitted to the defense are currently not public data but their titles provide insight into what they contain.
The police reports given to Marshall include a January 1974 obscene phone call, a February 1974 window peeping incident, a September 1970 assault and an October 1966 window peeping incident.
Prosecutors also submitted a psychological consultation for Vossen conducted by the Clarinda Mental Health institute in Clarinda, Iowa.
The submitted documents include polygraph tests for Vossen and others questioned during the initial investigation and multiple FBI reports regarding fingerprinting and Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension lab reports.
Two Iowa cold cases were also submitted. According to Willmar Police Chief Jim Felt, his department had been in contact with departments in Iowa about Vossen’s DNA being a possible match to unsolved cases in Iowa.
Felt said they haven’t received any updates regarding DNA matches but that Willmar police asked Vossen about potential Iowa cold cases, to which Vossen denied any wrongdoing and didn’t talk.
Vossen’s next court appearance is scheduled at 2:30 p.m. Nov. 24.