Murder suspect refused to say why he killed mother and nephew in vicious attack. Prosecutors hinted at mental illness.
Ishmael Roberts said nothing as he arrived unannounced at his mother's north Minneapolis home Monday, wearing a black stocking cap and sunglasses even though it was the middle of the night.
Roberts went inside, according to a criminal complaint filed Wednesday, and killed his mother and teenage nephew with a Samurai sword, then left a bloody trail of evidence in the Iowa city where he was captured that evening.
As murder charges were filed against him in Minneapolis, Roberts, 22, refused to say why he killed his relatives, although prosecutors hinted at mental illness. Police are certain of one thing: Beatrice Wilson, 57, and her grandson Peter, 14, fought for their lives.
"They had multiple lacerations, and the lacerations they had were indicative of a struggle and a vicious fight," said Minneapolis Police Capt. Amelia Huffman.
The complaint said their bodies were found in separate upstairs bedrooms in the home in the 1200 block of 12th Avenue N., where Roberts once lived along with numerous other relatives.
Roberts, who was charged with two counts of intentional second-degree murder, remained jailed Wednesday afternoon in Waterloo, Iowa, where he was captured Monday evening on suspicion of stealing his mother's car, then rolling it over before trying to flee police.
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said there have been indications that Roberts is mentally ill, although they don't have any concrete evidence. A resident of the home told police that Roberts had not been in contact with his mother or others in the family for about two years, according to the complaint.
Relatives said he was living in the Portland, Ore., area with a sister, where records show he racked up a few minor offenses, including public indecency, theft and trespassing. Authorities say he would not tell them why he returned to Minneapolis or allegedly committed the murders.
"We asked the one question: 'What was this about with your family?' and he said, as is his constitutional right: 'I don't wanna talk, and it's over,'" Freeman said. "We may never know ... but we're hoping we understand, because only by understanding what the motive was can we try to help make sure these things don't occur again."
A sheath used for a samurai sword was recovered in the home, according to the complaint. Police said Wednesday afternoon that they have yet to locate the weapon.
"There's a good chance he threw it on the road somewhere between here and Waterloo, Iowa, so whether we'll ever find that, I don't know," Huffman said.
Authorities in Minneapolis said Roberts went to Waterloo because he knew someone there, but they don't believe he met with anyone there. Freeman said police believe he was drinking before he was arrested.
Roberts showed up unexpectedly at the Minneapolis home about 3 a.m. Monday. One of the residents, an adult relative, said he tried to speak with Roberts but went back to bed when Roberts didn't respond.
Another resident said he awoke to screams and saw a masked man stabbing Beatrice Wilson. He said he fled the home to call 911 from a neighbor's house and could hear Peter screaming as he ran. Neighbors said earlier this week that they awoke to Beatrice Wilson's 15-year-old grandson banging on the door calling for help. Police were called about 4:30 a.m.
A trail to Waterloo
At the scene, police tracked blood between the house and the garage. In Waterloo, police reported finding blood inside and on the outside of the car along with a ski mask and sunglasses. His bloodied gym shoes were recovered from a garbage can at a Target store after he reportedly bought a new pair of Converse shoes at a local shoe store. A bloodied floor mat was retrieved from a trash bin behind the strip mall where Target is located.
Philip Segbee, whose wife is Beatrice Wilson's niece, said earlier this week that the family is still trying to figure out a motive for the killings.
"We don't know why. He [Roberts] was not even living here," Segbee said. "He was gone for a while, and all of a sudden he just came back and did such a thing."
Beatrice Wilson emigrated to the United States from Liberia more than 10 years ago. In addition to raising her grandchildren and other relatives, she was a nursing assistant at the Minneapolis Veterans Home and a devout churchgoer.