Retiree was convicted in 1997 of a 1992 murder in his homeland.
To one of his neighbors in Lino Lakes, Zdravko Veletic was a retired construction worker and grandfather who struggled after he lost his wife to cancer last year. Laurie Showers called Veletic, who lived in the northern Twin Cities suburb for seven years, "one of the nicest people I have ever met.''
Unbeknownst to her or her neighbors, Veletic, 56, was a convicted murderer who fled his homeland after he shot and killed a fellow Bosnian who cursed his mother 16 years ago, federal officials said Monday.
Veletic was captured on Oct. 31 at his home on Partridge Place. He appeared before U.S. Magistrate Franklin Noel last week in Minneapolis and was ordered extradited to Bosnia.
Veletic and his family left their Sarajevo home at the outbreak of the Bosnian civil war in 1992 and went to the town of Kalinovik, according to a U.S. attorney's office affidavit.
In June 1992, he argued with a man named Mijo Bozalo after Bozalo cursed Veletic's mother. Veletic drew a pistol and fatally shot Bozalo.
Veletic fled and was tried in absentia by a Bosnian court, which convicted him of murder in December 1997.
In November 2001, Veletic, along with his wife, Ljeposava, bought a home on Partridge Place in Lino Lakes, according to Anoka County property records. Ljeposava Veletic died in 2007 at age 50, according to state records.
Showers, who moved to the neighborhood with her husband about five years ago, said, "I would never have imagined this in a million years."
She said Veletic was a construction worker who had to quit working because of a back injury.
When Veletic's wife died of cancer, Showers attended her wake. "He loved her so much," Showers said. "He really struggled with the loss."
The Veletics have two married daughters and three grandchildren, Showers said. She described Veletic as "a very good grandpa" who would sometimes care for his grandchildren.
Veletic's attorney and family members declined to comment Monday.
Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482