Michigan Man (Finally?) Arrested After Amish Knife Threats

A Michigan man has been arrested for threatening violence against an Amish family, while equipped with a large knife. But when you actually read this story, you’ve got to wonder why it took so long.

The incident occurred in Manistee County, though the man is said to be from Clare (also home to a significant Amish population). From upnorthlive.com:

On Monday, Aug. 7, 2023, a husband and wife made a report at the MSP Kaleva Detachment that their family had been threatened, state police said in a news release.

The couple, who are Amish, had recently moved to Michigan and said they were threatened the day prior while on their way home from church with their baby.

State police said the family was informed by a fellow church member of a shorter route to their home by taking Healy Lake Road.

As they were traveling on the route in their buggy, a man later identified as Sensing “came from somewhere off the roadway waving a large knife trying to get them to stop,” state police said.

The husband then stopped the buggy not thinking that Sensing was going to threaten them.

“Sensing then told the Amish family if they ever traveled this road again, there would be big problems,” state police said. “The victim said that he’s learned that Sensing has threatened other Amish people in the area as well.”

This might be a case of mental illness, simple hatred of the Amish, or some of both. Sensing had additional comments (delivered to a state trooper for good measure) that suggest he’s not fond of Amish people:

A state police “trooper interviewed Sensing at the end of his driveway near the road,” state police said. “Sensing told the trooper about his hatred of the Amish and made remarks as to what he would do if they didn’t stay away from him.”

Charles Sensing does not like the Amish. Photo: Michigan State Police/UpNorthLive News

One puzzling thing is the fact that this was reported in August, but the arrest warrant was not issued until four months later (late December). This is an example of a story with a gap that needs filling, at least to satisfy my understanding.

I’m not sure why you permit a person who you’ve got an assumedly credible report on – plus supporting comments personally delivered to a lawman – to go without charges for such an extended period. Maybe there is some sort of investigative aspect I’m missing.

Since he’s described as being from Clare, I thought maybe he was simply not local and thus hard to identify. But no, we’re told that he delivered his hatred-of-the-Amish comments to the trooper “at the end of his driveway”.  So given what’s presented in the article, this one has me scratching my head.

I’m also not sure how a person develops such a hatred for another group of people, to the extent you’re waving knives at a couple with a baby, but there you have it. Unable to post bond, Sensing remains at Manistee County Jail.

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    1. john

      Amish Hate

      The man in question is just a sign of the times. Look at the hatred of the Jews right now for protecting themselves in Gaza. Look at what is going on in the Middle East with all the attacks going on. Look at the hatred of minority groups in the US. Now many times do you see in the paper or hear on the news or road rage killings or little kids being shot to death because they were outside playing. We as a society are losing it when you have people who think wrong is right and right is wrong they have no fear of punishment look at all the shoplifters that have no no punishment for stealing then they think they can keep on stealing but in the long run it effect everyone with higher prices.

    2. Hate crime

      I can’t explain the long delay either. If it’s a hate crime, & proven, the penalties increase. Yes, there’s so much unexplained. The suspect could be local but have disappeared for months. Traveling? Hiding? When people do things we don’t understand, we typically say, “he must be mentally ill or on drugs.” I’m glad he was reported, however, the long delay wouldn’t encourage confidence in local law enforcement.

      1. Erik Wesner

        Thanks for your thoughts Jim, I thought of you while writing this and was hoping you might chime in. Maybe we’ll get more info at some point.

    3. Larry K Bromagem

      Amish friends.

      I have several Amish friends with whom I’ve worked and who have worked for me installing painted metal siding on my barn. And, they have helped me bale hay. One afternoon when it was 105 degrees in the shade they went right on working and we got the crop in the haymow where it was safe.

    4. john

      update on charges

      In today’s Detroit News here was an article about the man and he was charged with ethnic intimidation and assault with a dangerous weapon in regards to the Amish couple. But on Wednesday he had 3 other charges against him added and supposedly he assaulted a work crew in his area with a rifle because someone defacated on his property even though he did not own it. Sounds like a real nut case

    5. Does sound like probable mental illness

      Yeah, sounds like someone on the edge of psychosis, or something similar (not an expert, but have seen it), in which case he deserves our sympathy too. It is a sickness like any other, not a lifestyle choice. It’s very hard to know how responsible people with slight cases are for actions like these: it’s a bit of a legal and philosophical nightmare.

      Which is not to say they shouldn’t have arrested him more promptly – if I ever go mad, I hope to goodness someone arrests me if I’m starting to do any real harm! (Most people who suffer from psychosis or other mental illness don’t do any harm).

      Hope everyone involved is ok, anyway.

    6. Walter Boomsma


      I suspect the Amish have not aggressively pursued this, given their (understandable) general avoidance of the legal system. That’s certainly not an excuse or an attempt to “blame” them as the victims on my part. Although blaming the Amish for what happens to them is more common than one might think. It’s actually a bit intriguing that, in this case, they reported the threat. I’m constantly amazed at the amount of “anti-Amish” sentiment encountered both on social media and in real life. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to suggest they are often persecuted–sometimes by the legal system.

      From a slightly different perspective, societal attitudes seem to be very forgiving of mental illness and almost excuse illegal behavior based on it. We saw that happen here in Maine with the recent mass shooting in Lewiston. The shooter was (more than once) identified as a threat, but no action was taken. I don’t think the fact that he was clearly mentally ill means the 18 people are any less dead.

      So it’s not just the Amish who are suffering within the system.

      There’s lots to think about here.

      1. Moral responsibility requires understanding the action

        Moral responsibility requires knowledge of the action concerned and the capacity to refrain from doing it. If someone who shoots someone is insane to the point of, for example, believing that they are in the Marinas trench fighting the kraken, rather than in the town square shooting the high-street shoppers, they are not guilty of murder.

        What I know of psychosis from reading people’s experiences (most of them harmless) suggests that the closest a non-sufferer can get to understanding what it is like, is that it is rather like acting in a dream: the false events seem completely real until it passes.

        If someone has a random stroke at the wheel, and causes a car accident in which 20 people die, the fact that those people are dead does not cause the person who had the stroke to be morally responsible for it!

        Similarly, if someone is seriously insane: i.e. has no idea where they are or what they are doing, they are not responsible for their actions.

        That is, full insanity is a complete excuse in that BOTH the perpetrator and anyone harmed by them are the victims of an illness – a sad natural reality. It isn’t a question of being forgiving, which suggests guilt: the person is temporarily without moral agency and not in a state where judgements about guilt apply.

        If anyone is responsible in such cases, it is the people who haven’t done anything about the fact that the person is obviously getting into a state where they are not competent or aware of what they are doing, and that is also a very complicated issue, because it is not right or practical to run on the police or medical profession being able to limit people’s freedom randomly, or on the off-chance that they might be insane. Of course, as an English (i.e. UK) person, I would also comment that when there are fewer guns about, the harm that someone in that sort of state is likely to do is much more limited, though I appreciate the American situation is different from ours in some ways (for example, we have very few dangerous animals).

        The difficulty of how responsible people are who are not so insane as to literally be unaware of what they are doing, but are nevertheless not in a normal human state of mind (i.e. the distorted perception of reality vs. completely lost perception of reality), and the fact that the legal profession sometimes try to misuse the idea of insanity to get people who are sane off artificially, does not affect the principle of requiring sound mind for moral and legal responsibility!

    7. Guy in Ohio

      That does seem like a long delay from the time the crime was reported until the arrest was made, especially considering the comments that the suspect made to police. I think it is possible that the decision to bring criminal charges against the suspect may have been left up to a grand jury. Manistee county has a small population, just over 25,000 people, and may only convene a grand jury one or two times a year. That’s the best explanation that I can think of.

    8. Debbi

      Who knows what people have hate in their heart I lost most of my family in the camps some people just hate to Hate