Crime, Law and Justice

Judge grants change-of-venue request by man charged with killing Madeline Kingsbury

Signs along the highway in Chatfield
A missing person sign along a highway in Chatfield calls attention to the disappearance of Madeline Kingsbury. Kingsbury went missing on March 31, 2023. Her body was found in Mabel in June.
Ken Klotzbach for MPR News

A Winona County judge has granted a change-of-venue request sought by a man accused of killing his ex-girlfriend in a high-profile case last year.

Adam Fravel, 30, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of 26-year-old Madeline Kingsbury. She disappeared from Winona in late March of last year. Her body was found more than two months later in Fillmore County.

A mug shot of a man.
Adam Fravel
Courtesy of Winona County Sheriff's Office

Fravel’s lawyers argued that it would be impossible to select an impartial jury because of publicity about the case — and Judge Nancy Buytendorp agreed.

In her ruling Wednesday, Buytendorp noted a public opinion survey of 100 Winona County residents earlier this year that found 89 percent had seen, heard or read a story about the disappearance of Madeline Kingsbury.

Of those respondents, 74 percent had “formed an opinion about who is responsible” for Kingsbury’s death. And of that second group, 99 percent believed Fravel was responsible.

“It is evident to this Court that a fair trial cannot be ensured within this county,” Buytendorp wrote. “Therefore, it falls upon this Court to determine which county within the state can best ensure the impartiality necessary for a fair trial.”

The judge’s order said district and state court officials will work to identify a new venue.