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Mummified monkey yields one confession, a governor’s theory

April 12, 2018 GMT

The Case of the Mummified Monkey of Minneapolis took a couple turns Thursday, thanks to the video confession of a monkey thief and a competing theory raised by the governor.

The tale unfolded after a photo of the mummified monkey remains was posted on the Facebook page of a member of the construction crew at the former downtown Daytons department store. The intact skeleton revealed itself in a ceiling during the renovation, the posting read.

On Tuesday Robbinsdale Mayor Regan Murphy tweeted that his dad, Larry, had once stolen a monkey from Daytons. Regan Murphys mother, Monica, said her late husband told her about it back when they were dating in the early 1960s.

As news spread, the family of one of the monkey-nappers came forward.

I can confirm the story of the Monkey told by Monica Murphy and Reagan Murphy, e-mailed Jessica Christensen, a first-grade teacher in St. Michael. My dad Tom Netka was with Larry Murphy, they were about 15 years old when they stole the monkey from Daytons.

Christensen said her family heard the tale many times growing up, and even got their dad to tell it on videotape in 2016, months before he died in February 2017. They volunteered the video to the Star Tribune to share. Netka tells the assembled family that there was a pet shop at the downtown Daytons, and he and Larry stole a squirrel monkey, small enough to be wrapped in his jacket.

Whose brilliant idea was this? We blame each other, Netka said.

After a couple of days as Netkas roommate, the monkey was evicted. My mom made me bring it back, he said. It wouldnt stop pooping.

Do you think they went back to the pet shop, returned the monkey and apologized? Think again.

I think we just walked into the store, just opened the door and threw the monkey in, he said.

I am so convinced that this is their stolen monkey! Christensen wrote.

But on Thursday, the monkey story sent Gov. Mark Dayton down memory lane to another possible explanation for the monkey.

But one thing he made clear: I was not responsible.

Dayton, a great-grandson of the founder of Daytons, told his story at a news conference mostly about more weighty subjects.

Dayton did work at the store in summer of 1968 and recalled that they added a rain forest exhibit on the eighth floor, with live monkeys and birds, that did not go as planned.

Somebody didnt figure out that the monkeys were carnivores, Dayton said. I wont get into the graphic details ... But the next day they had a netting up to segregate and separate the birds from the monkeys. And they said one monkey got out and went into the air duct.

Staff writer Jessie Van Berkel contributed to this report. Paul Walsh 612-673-4482