‘Ball slasher’ accused of breaking into Superior High School

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A Duluth man with past convictions for slashing exercise balls has been arrested again, accused of committing the same crime at Superior High School.

Christopher Neil Bjerkness, who has previously admitted to having a fetish for slashing exercise balls, was arrested in the early hours of Wednesday after allegedly slashing 22 exercise balls at the school.

Bjerkness, 39, has been charged in Douglas County Circuit Court with burglary of a building or dwelling, a felony with a maximum sentence of more than 12 years in prison, as well as criminal damage to property and obstructing an officer, both misdemeanors.

According to the criminal complaint:

Superior police officers responded to a burglary-in-progress call at the high school at 3:07 a.m. Wednesday, where they observed “numerous exercise balls which had been damaged” in the deep end of the swimming pool. Two exercise balls haven’t been accounted for. The balls were valued at $39.95 each.

Bjerkness told officers that he saw an open door on the high school’s south side while he was biking from Duluth to Superior, and entered the high school to warm up. He initially said he didn’t touch or rummage through any items, the complaint states, before he admitted that he popped exercise balls at the school.

Bjerkness told officers that after he opened the doors to the pool area, he saw the exercise balls and popped “a rack and three quarters” of exercise balls using a car key, according to the complaint.

Surveillance footage from the school showed that Bjerkness tried to pull open multiple exterior doors to gain entry into the school before he was able to open a door, according to the complaint. The footage also shows Bjerkness attempting to gain entry into classrooms and doors before gaining entry into the pool area.

Bjerkness was previously convicted in 2005 of slashing exercise balls at the University of Minnesota Duluth Sports and Health Center; in 2009 for slashing exercise balls at the St. Mary’s Duluth Clinic West building and in 2011 for breaking into the Chester Creek Academy fitness center where several exercise balls were stored.

He’s due back in court on Wednesday.