Shavelle Chavez-Nelson and Ashley Conrade are accused of aiding each other in killing Anarae Schunk in second-degree murder cases.
Anarae Schunk was stabbed 22 times with a kitchen knife. Her clothes were cut off. Her body was thrown in a large plastic tub, loaded into the trunk of a car and then dumped beside a cornfield on a rural road, according to murder charges filed Friday.
Shavelle Chavez-Nelson, 32, and Ashley Conrade, 24, were charged in Dakota County District Court with aiding each other in intentional second-degree murder.
Authorities don’t know which defendant struck the fatal blows to the 20-year-old University of Minnesota student. It doesn’t really matter, they say.
“No one was there other than the two persons involved with killing Anarae and Anarae herself, so exactly what happened … we don’t know,” County Attorney Jim Backstrom said at a news conference. “But we have a lot of evidence in this case … that we believe implicates both of these individuals with causing her death.”
Backstrom will convene a grand jury to consider first-degree murder charges against both. A conviction on that charge carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison.
Sobbing while in court
Both defendants made first appearances before District Judge Kathryn Messerich on Friday in Hastings. Nelson was brought from St. Cloud prison, where he is serving a nine-year sentence for an unrelated burglary in Richfield in June 2013.
Bail for Conrade, who sobbed throughout the hearing, was set at $2 million without conditions or $750,000 with conditions that include no use of alcohol or drugs and no contact with the victim’s family or potential witnesses.
According to the charges and interviews with family members, the last time Schunk’s family saw her alive was the early afternoon of Sept. 21, a Saturday, when her father, Monty, dropped her off at a Caribou Coffee shop on Hwy. 13 in Burnsville.
She wouldn’t tell her dad who she was meeting up with. But the family knew she had been in touch again with Nelson, whom she had dated for a short time in the summer of 2012.
Schunk met a high school friend that afternoon and told her that she planned to get together with Nelson to talk about him returning $5,000 she had lent him while they were dating. The complaints said Schunk and Nelson went to some batting cages, then returned to Conrade’s townhouse in Rosemount.
The three went to Nina’s Bar & Grill in Burnsville about 12:30 a.m. Sept. 22. At closing time, Nelson got into an altercation with Palagor (Paul) Jobi in the parking lot. Jobi, 23, of Savage, was shot dead.
Nelson is charged with first-degree premeditated murder and second-degree murder in Jobi’s death; his trial in that case is to begin Oct. 27. Conrade is charged with aiding an offender after the fact.
After Jobi’s shooting, the three returned to Conrade’s townhouse.
Backstrom said the last person to see Schunk alive was a friend of a neighbor about 3:30 a.m. outside the townhouse. Investigators believe she was killed in the kitchen between 3:30 and 4:30 a.m.
Police interviewed Conrade multiple times. She told multiple versions of what happened that morning, they said. In each, she denied killing Schunk and insisted she didn’t know who had killed her, how she died or where she could be found.
Conrade told police she’d gone to bed when they returned to her home, then got up and went to work at a Holiday gas station at 6 a.m. Sept. 22. A co-worker saw that Conrade had an injured finger, a cut on her palm and a cut on her arm.
It wasn’t until Sept. 29, when investigators confronted Conrade with items containing “blood evidence” that they had found at her townhouse, that she admitted she had seen Schunk’s body lying on the kitchen floor when she returned from work the afternoon of Sept. 22, authorities say.