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Kimball Post Office Bombed – On ‘This Date In Central Minnesota History’

A 1970s photo of main street Kimball (Stearns History Museum)

KIMBALL - May 13th, 1976 – Kimball Post Office Bombing

It was a quiet spring morning when an explosion disrupted the small town of Kimball, Minnesota on May 13th, 1976. The explosion came from the Kimball Post Office where assistant postmaster Ivend Holen was sorting the morning’s mail. Though the ambulance was fast to the scene, the 60-year-old father of 10 died on the way to the hospital.

Ray Covert from Eden Valley had dropped off 3 large sacks of mail in a bulk shipment from Minneapolis at the Kimball Post Office at 1 am. “I didn’t look inside (the three sacks) but they were goddamned heavy.” (St. Cloud Daily Times, 13 May 1976). Ivend Holen had begun sorting the mail for that day’s delivery when one of the packages exploded at 6:42 am. Glass was blown as far as 35 feet into the street.

The explosion caused a fire in the post office that took the Kimball Fire Department 30 minutes to extinguish. Damage to the building was extensive. A bomb squad, postal inspectors, and FBI agents soon joined local law enforcement in investigating the cause of the explosion. They quickly determined that the explosion was caused by a bomb which came through the mail and was intended to kill someone upon delivery. They believed that the targeted victim was someone who lived along Rt. 1 (300 people lived along that route). Rumors circulated that the package was sent from Massachusetts, but later was determined to have come from another Kimball resident.

When the investigation started, a $3,000 reward was offered for any information that would lead to a conviction. About a week later the Postmaster General authorized the amount be raised to $10,000 in the hopes that it would generate new leads. That amount of reward was said to be used only for extreme cases.

One year after the explosion the reward was raised again, this time to $50,000. The reason for this increase came from the fear that whoever sent the bomb did not get the results he or she wanted and might try to kill someone else. The investigation concluded that the bomb was made by someone in or near Kimball who had a definite target. They narrowed the number of possible victims to only a few people and the number of most likely suspects to less than 5. Investigators were hoping that this large reward would entice someone with information to come forward.

But, it hasn’t worked yet. The Tri-County Crime Stoppers have offered their own $2,000 reward on top of the $100,000 reward. Will Ivend Holen’s murderer ever be found?

Thanks to Sarah Warmka and the Stearns History Museum for their help with our series, “This Date In Central Minnesota History” on WJON.

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