Roger Holland could still face first-degree murder charges; signs of strangulation and erased text messages put his story in question.
Roger Earl Holland told police Thursday morning that he’d found his pregnant wife lying at the bottom of a staircase, unconscious, when he returned to their Apple Valley townhouse after getting them some breakfast.
But the bruises and abrasions that covered Margorie Holland from head to toe, and the deleted text messages that investigators discovered, told a far different story. On Wednesday, the night before she died, she texted her husband that “she did not believe anything he said and that the only thing she could do was divorce him,” court documents said.
Holland, 36, was charged Monday in Dakota County District Court with two counts of second-degree intentional murder in the deaths of his 37-year-old wife and the 15 ½-week fetus she was carrying. He is being held in the county jail on $1 million bail.
It’s the latest case in a long winter of deaths and disappearances of women in which significant others or exes have been suspected. Kira Trevino, 30, of St. Paul went missing in February and her husband was charged with murder. An ex-boyfriend is accused of killing Anna Hurd, 16, of North St. Paul, in February. Manya Johnson, 32, of St. Paul was killed in January, and her husband has pleaded guilty. Danielle Jelinek, 27, of Oakdale, has been missing since Dec. 9; an ex-boyfriend was the last person to see her.
“This is an extremely sad and tragic event, for a mother and her unborn child to die, allegedly at the hands of her husband, the child’s father,” County Attorney Jim Backstrom said at a news conference Monday. “We have seen far too many domestic-related homicides in the Twin Cities in the past several months. I’m sad to say we are alleging another occurred in Dakota County.”
Backstrom said he plans to convene a grand jury to consider charges of first-degree premeditated murder against Roger Holland.
Ironically, the Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women had announced in January that 2012 saw the fewest deaths stemming from domestic violence in 20 years; 18 people were killed, the group said.
The Hollands were both sergeants in the Texas National Guard. Roger Holland served in Iraq and both returned from deployments in Djibouti, in the Horn of Africa, at year’s end. They moved from San Antonio, Texas, to Apple Valley in December to be closer to her family, who live in Faribault and Blackduck, Minn., while she was pregnant.
Holland called 911 at 9:57 a.m. Thursday, hysterical, and said he’d found his wife at the foot of the stairs after he returned from McDonald’s. The couple had a good relationship and were happy, he said. They didn’t have any financial problems, he said.
The criminal complaint, however, detailed how the Hollands had argued via text numerous times about money and Roger Holland’s unauthorized use of the victim’s credit cards.
In one exchange on March 1, Holland asked his wife how she was, and she responded, “Like I hate my life, I hate the man I married, and I wish I could erase the past 3 years,” the complaint said. The couple had been together for three years and married for two.
Investigators also found texts about food sent Thursday morning, with time stamps of 9:29 a.m. and 9:32 a.m. But video surveillance at the apartment building showed that Holland did not leave the house until 9:34 a.m.
Information from an apparent Internet search was found on Roger Holland’s cell: “If you pass out and fall down a flight of stairs can you break you neckcan your neck be broken if you are.”
Margorie Holland was still alive when officers arrived at the apartment at 10 a.m. Thursday. She was taken to Fairview Ridges Hospital in Burnsville, where she died at 11:24 a.m.
Officers and medical personnel saw numerous injuries, including bruises and abrasions on her head, face, hands, legs, ankles and feet. An autopsy found the thyroid cartilage in the victim’s neck broken and bleeding in her neck muscles, consistent with strangulation, not with a fall down stairs. She had broken capillaries on her face and in her eyes, also consistent with strangulation.
Margorie Holland’s family was meeting with the Boldt Funeral Home in Faribault on Monday afternoon and did not want to talk to reporters.
She had named her daughter-to-be Olivia Jewell, according to her obituary. It was the couple’s first child, said attorney Eric Nelson, who has been retained along with his partner, Marsh Halberg, to represent Roger Holland.