State DNA files connect suspect to Minneapolis woman's slaying in '05

  • Article by: JIM ADAMS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 18, 2008 - 12:05 AM

A man was charged with killing the mother of three and dumping her naked body in a ditch near Northfield.

Antonio Medina, 33, has been charged in Rice County District Court with second-degree, intentional murder in the death of Laura Lynn DeMeules, 33, in November 2005.

Photo: Rice County Sheriff's Office

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With the help of the state's DNA database of convicted felons, a man was charged Thursday in the death of a south Minneapolis woman whose beaten body was found in a ditch near Northfield in 2005.

Antonio Medina, 33, who lived in Minneapolis at the time, was charged with second-degree intentional murder in the death of Laura Lynn DeMeules, 33, on Nov. 6, 2005. The mother of three was strangled and left naked in a ditch near Interstate 35 west of Northfield late that night.

Rice County Judge Gerald Wolf set Medina's bail at $1 million, court officials said.

"I thank God that they have found the killer," said the victim's father, Duane DeMeules, who was in the Faribault courtroom with his family Thursday when Medina was arraigned. "She was a very loving person. ... I was very pleased he got $1 million bail so he can't get out," he added.

"Now I don't have to worry anymore [that] this person could get ahold of somebody and the same kind of thing happens."

The case went unsolved for two years until Medina was convicted in Hennepin County of a felony drunken driving charge and his DNA sample was submitted -- routine for felons -- to the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension in December 2007. In January, his profile matched that of an unknown DNA sample found on a fingernail clipping taken from DeMeules' body.

When investigators interviewed Medina in February, he admitted picking up a woman on Lake Street that night who looked like a picture of DeMeules that police showed him. He said he was drunk and high on crack or cocaine. He said that after the woman started arguing and "freaked out," he pinned her down, choked her and killed her in his pickup truck.

According to murder charges, he said she scratched him, leaving scars on his face. Then he drove south on I-35W and dumped the body by a dirt road off the freeway, he said. He said he was the only one involved in the death.

A BCA forensic scientist said male DNA found on DeMeules' fingernail "would not be expected to occur more than once among unrelated individuals in the world population."

Her body was identified the day after it was found. Investigators put out her description, including shoulder and back tattoos. A Minneapolis officer called the BCA and said it sounded like DeMeules, with whom police had contacts involving prostitution.

Her father and brothers said the prostitution occurred years before her death. They said she had recently completed mental health treatment and was visiting friends in Minneapolis the night of her death.

Duane DeMeules said it was hard to see Medina, who mostly looked down without showing remorse, in court Thursday morning. "It is disgusting that somebody could murder someone and dump her body in a field like that," he said.

The victim's oldest son, Thomas Jackson, 19, said his mom visited him the night she died. "She always said I am her cuddle bug," he said. "It is hard to believe that someone just took her out of my life for no reason. I feel like my mom is finally resting in peace. I am thankful that God has blessed me with a wonderful mom."

Jim Adams • 612-673-7658

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