Sept. 14: Baffling violence left lone bicyclist dying on a lawn

  • Article by: TERRY COLLINS and MARY LYNN SMITH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 18, 2007 - 12:55 PM

The Minneapolis father of four took a nighttime jaunt carrying nothing of value. His slaying has shocked family and friends.

Thumb blisters aside, Mark Loesch was excited about the new tire he put on his rebuilt bicycle late Wednesday.

When his wife, Samantha, went to bed after they watched the 10 p.m. news, Loesch told her he was going out for a "quick spin." She thought nothing of it.

"He might have been coming to my house," said Gene Chadwick, his best friend and frequent riding partner. "It wouldn't be unlike him to pop over and say 'Hello.'"

He never arrived.

About halfway between his house and Chadwick's, in the 3700 block of Elliot Avenue S., Loesch was found barely breathing on a front lawn about 7 a.m. Thursday. He was dead by the time paramedics arrived.

Police say the 41-year-old father of four is the city's 35th homicide victim this year. He died from "severe trauma." His bike was found nearby.

So far there is no explanation for what happened to him.

"It's been tearing Samantha up inside after she found out Mark had been lying in somebody's front yard in pain and agony all night long," said Will Vervair of Maple Grove, a childhood friend.

Loesch, an information technology consultant, was an avid bicyclist, and it was common for him to ride at night, said Chadwick. Sometimes they would ride together. The two planned to ride together in Sunday's Minneapolis Bike Tour.

Standing outside his friend's home Friday afternoon, Chadwick envisioned the route Loesch, a "man of action" with "legs of steel," might have taken from his home on Wentworth Avenue to Chadwick's some 20 blocks away.

Loesch likely would have biked over a pedestrian bridge on E. 40th Street that overlooks Interstate 35W en route and "likely ran into trouble along the way."

He'd left his wallet and cell phone at home, Chadwick said.

'Somebody saw something'

Loesch owned four bikes and had spent the past two weeks rebuilding the fixed-gear bicycle he rode Wednesday. Loesch had asked Chadwick to get the new tire with him, but he passed.

"Maybe if I'd have gone ... " said Chadwick, his voice trailing off.

"He was such a strong, active, fit guy," Chadwick continued. "You would think somebody saw something."

Samantha Loesch called police early Thursday after she woke to find that her husband of 16 years had not returned home, Vervair said.

About an hour after she gave them his description, a police chaplain arrived at her front door with the news, Vervair said.

"She's trying to be strong for the kids," Chadwick said.

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