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Case of the burning motorcycle stumps Farmington police

A motorcycle fire at the car wash on Highway 3 has Farmington police a little perplexed.

The facts are simple enough: around 10 a.m. on July 27, a middle-aged white man drove a 1981 Suzuki motorcycle into a stall at the car wash. Video from the car wash shows the man was washing the motorcycle when it burst into flames.

Instead of calling 911, the man apparently ran out of the stall and got into a older model pickup truck driven by a middle-aged, white woman. The couple went through the Dairy Queen drive-through next door, then drove off before emergency personnel arrived at the car wash.

But beyond that, Farmington police detective sergeant Lee Hollatz says police have little information.

Detective Mark Sundgren has been trying to sort through the facts. He tracked down the last known owner of the motorcycle, but the last time it was licensed was in 2008 and the owner lives in Wisconsin. Hollatz said that lead is a dead end.

Police have spoken to a handful of witnesses. They describe the vehicle as a "Ranger-like vehicle," covered in gray primer, Hollatz said.

Police still don't know who the man and woman were, or why they left without calling for help. At first, Hollatz said, police thought the fire was set on purpose, but they ruled out arson after watching video from the car wash. Police don't know whether the man owned the motorcycle or whether it was stolen. The previous owner was not able to provide any information about who may own the motorcycle now.

"This is a goofy one," Hollatz said. "What we do with the goofy ones is we sit on them for a while. Somehow, someday, other information comes out. It always does."

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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