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The System Has Failed: The Murder of the Mimbach Family

Lawrence Scott Dame was born September 16th, 1972. He grew up in Minnesota with his parents and siblings. Unfortunately, when Lawrence, known as Larry, hit his teenage years, he began to display troubling symptoms. Larry was expelled from the private Christian school he and his siblings attended, so his father enrolled him in public school. At his new school, Larry fell into a crowd that had a negative influence on him.

“I got letters every day saying he skipped school” Larry’s father said. Larry started drinking alcohol and failed his classes. Eventually, Larry just dropped out of school. After he turned eighteen, he moved in with some friends. In May of 1991, Larry was living with a friend. The two went outside with Larry’s rifle and began to fire the weapon randomly. He hit a parked vehicle, causing significant damage. Larry was charged with felony property damage.

Larry’s first felony carried a sentence of three months in a workhouse, three years of probation, and he was to complete drug and alcohol treatment. Larry failed to pay the restitution or complete the drug and alcohol treatment. Between 1993 and 1994, Larry was arrested multiple times on parole violations. He continued down this dangerous path, often telling his family that he drank to “drown out the voices”. Larry was believed to be a paranoid schizophrenic.

In July of 1995, Larry got into an argument with another man in Little Falls, Minnesota. Larry took a knife and slit the man’s throat. For this crime, he was charged with first-degree assault. Larry served four years of his sentence before being paroled under the condition of abstaining from drugs and alcohol. Larry failed to comply with this ruling, either. He would often drink to excess, explaining to his siblings that he needed to drink to be free of the voices.

After his release, Larry moved to Lino Lakes, Minnesota to live with his parents. When he first returned home, Larry seemed to be doing well. Within a week, however, Larry started drinking again. Larry got a good job, which seemed to help him get back on track a little. He even moved out of his parents’ home and into his own place. When he was alone in his new home, however, Larry would hear the voices louder and louder. He began to drink more and more. Then, he lost his job.

After Larry lost his job, his alcohol use became more and more frequent. He was consuming as much as two fifths of whiskey per day. In September of 2000, police were called to Larry’s home for a suicide attempt. His mental condition continued to deteriorate, but his family rallied around him. His sister, Donna Mimbach, tried desperately to help her brother, even when it seemed helpless.

Donna was a year older than her brother, twenty-nine years old in 2000, and was married to Todd Mimbach. Todd had a twelve-year-old son from a previous relationship, John Mimbach. Donna had a nine-year-old daughter, Amber Duval, also from a previous relationship. Amber was born with spina bifida. She underwent spinal surgery to help her walk. After Donna and Todd married, they had a son of their own in 1998. Their son, Daniel, was born with a congenital heart defect and underwent surgery as a small baby.

Despite the family’s medical issues, they were known to be kind and generous to others. Donna truly wanted to help her brother. Despite her efforts, Larry was beyond Donna’s help. In early October 2000, Larry stole one of Todd and Donna’s vehicles. He was arrested and placed in Anoka County Jail. On October 18th, Larry was released from jail. His probation agent told Donna and Todd to take Larry to Mercy Hospital in Coon Rapids to be admitted for a mental health evaluation.

Even though Larry had stolen their vehicle, Donna and Todd still wanted to help Larry. Todd dropped Donna off at home and then drove his brother-in-law to Mercy Hospital. Todd waited for hours while doctors evaluated Larry Dame. After the evaluation, doctors determined that Larry was not a threat to himself or others, so he could not be admitted to the hospital. Todd was on his way back to his home with his brother-in-law, unsure of what to do.

Donna even called the police, explaining that her brother was not admitted to the hospital for a psychiatric examination, but he could not stay at her house. She didn’t know what to do, but the family knew Larry was not well. Officers said they could arrest him for trespassing and put him back in jail. Donna declined, as she didn’t want any additional charges against her brother. She agreed to allow Larry to stay the night with the Mimbach family while they tried to figure things out.

Todd and Larry arrived back at the Mimbach home around 10:30 pm. The next morning, at approximately 6:30 am, neighbors saw Larry leave the Mimbach house. Later that morning, October 19th, Todd Mimbach failed to show up for work. This was very unlike Todd, and so people started calling the Mimbach house. Without being able to reach the family after several hours, police were sent to check on the family. Inside the Mimbach house, investigators found a grisly scene.

Inside the Lino Lakes home, police found the bodies of twenty-nine-year-old Donna Mimbach and thirty-two-year-old Todd Mimbach. Both Donna and Todd had been beaten severely with a hammer. Todd Mimbach’s throat was slit. As the detectives continued to investigate the scene, they found the body of twelve-year-old John Mimbach. John had also been beaten with a hammer and his throat was slit. In another room, nine-year-old Amber Duval was found beaten with her throat slit. They also found twenty-two-month-old Daniel dead. Daniel had been beaten with a hammer and his throat was slit. The only victim whose throat wasn’t slit was Donna.

Neighbors immediately told authorities that Larry was to blame. He had been seen leaving the house early that morning. The Mimbach’s had been having problems with Larry and he had stolen one of their vehicles. Donna’s brother was mentally ill and a habitual criminal offender. Despite this, neighbors were shocked and devastated by the crime. And Larry was nowhere to be found.

At the scene, there was evidence of an attempt to clean the scene. Larry had apparently showered before leaving the house as well. Attempts to clean up the crime scene indicate perhaps Larry knew he had done something wrong. Larry drove to Rockford, Illinois, that morning and discarded the murder weapons. He then drove back to Lino Lakes, Minnesota. A gas station attendant recognized him and notified the police. Larry Dame was arrested and confessed to the murders and discarding the weapon in Rockford.

Rockford Police were able to recover the murder weapon. The prosecution theorized that attempts to clean the scene and hide the weapon indicate Larry knew right from wrong and was not insane at the time of the crime. He was charged with five counts of first-degree murder. Although the prosecution was convinced of his culpability and competence, Larry’s defense team entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity.

The jury disagreed, however, and didn’t find substantial evidence to support that Larry Dame was legally insane at the time of the crime. Larry was found guilty of five counts of first-degree murder and sentenced to five life sentences, to run consecutively. Larry Dame will never get out of prison. He has appealed his sentence and conviction multiple times, claiming certain evidence shouldn’t have been admissible and that he was criminally insane at the time of the murders. All his appeals have been denied. The only motive Larry has presented is that the voices told him to commit the murders.

Do you believe that Larry Dame was a victim of the flawed mental health system? Was the hospital liable for not admitting him the night before he brutally murdered his sister, brother-in-law, nephews, and niece? Should the police have done more to help Donna and her family when she didn’t want Larry staying there? Should Larry have served more than four years for slitting someone’s throat in 1995? No matter how you look at it, the system has failed.


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5 comentarios

The whole system failed and he still isn't getting the help he needs

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Also Larry's payroll officer would go to

his apt and see him pass out on the floor with a bottle of alcohol in his hands and say I'll come back later if she would have been doing her job he would have been in prison and he would have never been able to do that

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So basically he was turned away from being treated of these voices and thoughts because of no insurance!? Unbelievable!

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Some of these things are not true in here I am his sister and I know for a fact you went into the hospital saying that he was hearing voices telling him to kill his family and they turned him away because he did not have insurance that's a fact the other stuff is pretty I can't remember what else it was but it was all about not having insurance

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Danielle Ross
Danielle Ross
09 oct 2023

In the year 2000, mental health seemed to still be stigmatized. So there was no help or very little.

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