Allamakee County Attorney Jill Kistler provides clarification regarding recent speculation into State Patrol presence

No arrests made, no charges filed following motor vehicle accident and ensuing search

A recent presence of several Iowa State Patrol vehicles and officers at the residence of Allamakee County Attorney Jill Kistler in Waukon has had the rumor mill operating in high gear. Speculative stories “heard through the grapevine” or posted on social media have run the spectrum - from a drug raid to suicide, and a conspiring cover-up of all of it due to Kistler’s elected position as County Attorney, making the actual turn of events pale in comparison. In an effort to clarify the matter, Kistler has offered a detailed explanation of what she knows in regard to the matter and her thoughts on the local reaction.

The recent saga began with Kistler’s husband, Chris Mirich, having an accident with his pick-up truck Tuesday evening, November 13 when he says he swerved to miss a deer. Kistler said her husband called her right away to inform her that he had been in an accident, but that he was alright.

The call was dropped due to spotty cell phone service and Mirich then left his wrecked vehicle in search of better phone service, getting a ride from the scene.

Kistler said she then called for a tow service and then called the Allamakee County Sheriff’s Department to report the accident, being informed that the accident had already been reported and that deputies were en route to the accident scene. Upon discovering that the accident involved a family member of the Allamakee County Attorney, local protocol moved investigation and follow-up regarding the accident to the Iowa State Patrol, a common occurrence when incidents involve individuals in the local law enforcement realm - or their family members - in an effort to avoid the appearance of impropriety or favoritism. That transition from what would normally be a County investigation to the Iowa State Patrol is a fact confirmed by Allamakee County Sheriff Clark Mellick.

It appears, however, that the actual protocol put in place to avoid the appearance of impropriety may have only served to further fuel the rumor mill to the contrary for many, as the usual news releases issued or informative social media posts by local law enforcement following an incident - especially one involving such a police presence as what would take place the following day, Wednesday, November 14 - were not made available. The reasoning for that lack of information was simply because - per protocol - neither the Waukon Police Department nor the Allamakee County Sheriff’s Department were involved in any of the investigation or follow-up, another fact confirmed by both Sheriff Mellick and Waukon Police Chief Phil Young.

Following Tuesday’s accident event, the following day, Wednesday, November 14, appeared to be progressing as normal. However, shortly before 5 p.m., Kistler said she was notified by the Iowa State Patrol that Troopers were at her residence in Waukon executing a search warrant pursuant to the traffic accident investigation. Kistler said she arrived home and was provided a copy of the warrant by Troopers onsite.

According to the search warrant document Kistler received and then provided as a means of helping clarify the situation, the warrant sought the following items (quoted from the document): “Any cell phone belonging to or being used by Christopher Ely Mirich and or with the number of 956-536-1556, all records showing subscriber information and the billing statements for the past 4 months of the phone number 956-536-1556”.

Kistler said that by the time she had arrived at her residence, her husband’s current cell phone and a deactivated old cell phone of his had already been provided to the State Patrol. “With full cooperation, I directed the Troopers to the subscriber information for Chris’s cell phone - which they had the incorrect number for - and provided them with the requested cell phone bills and answered follow-up questions. We spoke for a while about the accident and then all the Troopers left,” Kistler explained.

For the sake of further clarification, Kistler further stated, “There was no search warrant for drugs. Neither Chris nor I were arrested. No criminal charges have been filed on either Chris or I. No drugs were located or seized during the execution of the search warrant.”

A search of documentation resources further confirms that no charges have been filed or arrests made as of this printing. Sheriff Mellick also stated that “no one involved in this has come through our jail.”

Kistler said that three items were taken as a result of the search warrant, including her husband’s current cell phone, his old cell phone and one of her U.S. Cellular telephone bills. Further proof of that claim was provided in the Property Control Inventory Report provided to Kistler and Mirich and also shared for further clarification.

Kistler further stated that neither she nor her husband have been provided a copy of the application for search warrant, which would provide information that could possibly explain the reason for the search warrant being pursued, approved and executed. “So, we remain uncertain as to exactly what information the State Patrol hopes to glean from the items seized,” she offered.

Speculating a bit on her own, Kistler explained that she and her husband were “led to believe there was a concern that another individual may have been in the vehicle with Chris when the crash occurred, and so there was concern there was another injured party out there.” She further noted that blood had been found on the center console and the passenger seat next to the console in the wrecked pick-up but said that Mirich had a bloody nose from the accident.

“The Troopers have been assured that Chris was alone when the crash occurred and no one else was injured,” Kistler stated.

In addition to their home, the search warrant document also indicated that Mirich, himself, be searched, along with his vehicle involved in the accident and his locker and work space he has access to at his place of employment, Aveka Nutra Processing in Waukon. All three of the items sought and seized by Troopers came as a result of searching the couple’s residence.

Follow-up with the Iowa State Patrol has yielded little as of the Tuesday morning, November 20 press deadline for this publication. In the most recent conversation, held Friday evening, November 16, with Sergeant Jewel O’Rear, Assistant District Commander in Iowa State Patrol’s District 10 located in Oelwein, she advised that “no arrests have been made and no charges have been filed”. Sgt. O’Rear further advised that an accident report was being worked on and will be filed and available on the Iowa State Patrol website as soon as it is available. She also said that neither she nor the Iowa State Patrol could comment on any other matters related to the ongoing investigation.

A Monday afternoon, November 19 telephone call to Sgt. O’Rear had not been answered nor returned as of the Tuesday, November 20 press deadline for this publication. The accident report also had not been filed as of that same timeframe.

In light of all that has transpired since her husband’s Tuesday, November 13 accident and ensuing search, Kistler offered the following in regard to the barrage of speculation:

“What I find most concerning about all of this is how quickly people in a community that’s been referred to as a caring community full of support and friendship are to jump on the gossip bandwagon; why there are so many who want to question all the good things they hear about others, but believe all the bad they hear without a second thought. This has caused an enormous amount of stress to not only me and my husband, but to our parents, siblings, friends, neighbors, employers and other relatives. We’ve all been peppered with questions regarding some horrible scandal that doesn’t even exist. What a sad state of affairs we are in.

“My husband lost his mother suddenly to congestive heart failure a few weeks ago (Sharlene Stanton, 69, of Harlingen, TX passed away October 19, 2018). I find it sickening and shameful that while our family has tried to create an environment of love and support in this difficult time, so many others in this so-called friendly community have found it more enjoyable to attack our reputations and defame our names by spreading hateful fallacies.

“I’ve come to learn that it is usually people who know the least or care the least about a situation that somehow ‘have the most to say’. It would be great if we all focused on mastering ourselves, rather than wasting time gossiping, passing judgment and betraying people behind their backs. If this so-called loving, close-knit community really wants to be the community they put themselves out to be, I invite every one of you reading this to spread kindness and compassion, rather than gossip and judgment.”

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