A St. Paul man was charged Monday with killing a man and leaving his body to decompose in a garage for weeks.
John M. Erickson, 49, was charged in Ramsey County District Court with two counts of second-degree murder without intent in the killing of Allan Bishara Aguilar.
Authorities found Aguilar's body in Erickson's garage in the 600 block of Lawson Avenue E. about 3 p.m. Friday after several of Aguilar's friends forced their way into the garage and "found a decomposing body that was covered in several layers of plastic bedding and concealed beneath debris," according to the charges.
Aguilar, 47, was last seen alive on June 13.
Aguilar may have been in the garage for weeks, said St. Paul police spokesman Steve Linders, who called the case "extremely disturbing."
Erickson told police that tools had been stolen from his garage. He said that he was investigating a noise in his garage one night when he was struck with an object, and began wrestling with a man inside, according to the charges.
"Erickson grabbed a part of a metal jack from his tool bench," the charges said. "Erickson said he was fighting for his life and his family. Erickson said he struck the man four to five times. Erickson said the man would not stay down."
The complaint said that Erickson told an investigator that he killed the man about a month to a month and a half ago, and said he didn't know what to do with the body.
According to the complaint: Erickson used to keep his garage door open, and neighbors and friends gathered there to drink. But after Aguilar went missing, the garage remained closed and no one was permitted inside.
Aguilar's friends grew suspicious and forced their way into the garage on Friday, acting on knowledge that Erickson had allegedly previously threatened to shoot Aguilar.
Erickson was asleep when police arrived at the scene. As police escorted him away, he asked that someone take care of his dog for him.
One witness told police that he was speaking with Erickson a few days earlier when he noticed a lot of flies and a strong smell. Erickson said he had buried a dog in the backyard, and then said he had a coffin in the garage.
One neighbor said she saw Erickson crying outside of his home in late June, and that he had told her: " 'I did something really bad.' "
Erickson initially declined to speak with police, but gave a statement Sunday. He allegedly said that a neighbor he allowed to work on cars in his garage blamed Aguilar for stealing half of Erickson's tools.
Erickson confronted the neighbor and Aguilar. A week after that, Erickson heard the noise in his garage and struggled with the man, whom he said he only recognized the next morning as Aguilar.
The Ramsey County medical examiner's office determined that Aguilar died of closed head trauma. He suffered extensive skull fractures.
Police also arrested a 47-year-old woman on suspicion of interfering with a body and concealing evidence. Linders said Monday that she was released pending further investigation.
Police also found a partly stripped stolen car inside Erickson's garage.
It is the city's 15th homicide of the year.
Staff writer Tim Harlow contributed to this report.