Minnesota woman accused of trying to get twin sister to take fall for fatal Amish buggy crash

Posted at 7:58 AM, March 6, 2024 and last updated 11:09 AM, March 6, 2024

PRESTON, Minn. (AP/Court TV) — A Minnesota woman is accused of trying to deceive authorities into believing her identical twin sister was the driver who hit a horse-drawn Amish buggy last fall, killing two of the four children inside.

Samantha Jo Petersen, 35, was charged in Fillmore County District Court in February with 21 counts including criminal vehicular homicide and driving under the influence of drugs.

samanth and sarah petersen mugshots

(L) Samantha Jo Petesen booking photo from prior Feb. 2021 arrest. (R) Sarah Beth Petersen booking photo from prior Sept. 2016 arrest. (Olmsted County Sheriff’s Office)

The Sept. 2023 crash killed 7-year-old Wilma Miller and 11-year-old Irma Miller, while their 9-year-old brother and 13-year-old sister were seriously injured. They were riding to school at the time. The horse also died. Both sisters were at the scene when deputies arrived, and the defendant’s twin, Sarah Beth Petersen, insisted to one deputy that she was the driver who hit the buggy, the criminal complaint alleges.

Samantha Jo was charged by summons and is due in court March 25. Sarah Beth is also facing charges, including aiding and abetting, and is due in court April 1, reported WJW.

Text messages obtained by law enforcement show that Samantha Jo tried to get her twin sister to take the fall for the crash because she was high on methamphetamine and feared going to prison, the complaint alleges. But their alleged cover story quickly unraveled as investigators dug into the case, the complaint shows.

Samantha Jo has a criminal history in Minnesota that includes two convictions for driving under the influence and one for giving a false name to police.

According to the criminal complaint, Samantha Jo’s blood tested positive for methamphetamine, amphetamine and THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.

Squad car video from the first deputy to arrive suggests that the women traded clothes at the crash scene, the complaint says. The second deputy left his voice recorder going while Sarah Beth was in his squad car.

According to the complaint, Sarah Beth can he heard telling Samantha Jo while the deputy was away, “I think one of the guys is onto me but I really don’t care,” and “there’s no way they would ever know the difference between the two of us so they can’t tell.”

Samantha Jo was a baker at a nearby supermarket. The district manager for the chain told investigators that Samantha Jo had messaged him and human resources, saying that she had messed up and was under the influence of meth at the time of the crash, the complaint says. It also says she told an HR person “I just killed two Amish people; they were kids.”

Investigators found a search made with Samantha Jo’s phone on the question, “What happens if you get in an accident with an Amish buggy and kill two people,” the complaint says.

More In: