St. Paul mom of 2 was strangled; man arrested in Miami

  • Article by: CHAO XIONG and PAUL WALSH , Star Tribune staff writers
  • Updated: October 23, 2011 - 12:14 PM

A memorial fund and benefit are planned to help the family of Megan Neely, who was found dead on Monday.

A 27-year-old mother of two, who was found dead Monday in her St. Paul home, died of strangulation, police said Thursday.

The revelation followed the arrest in Miami on Wednesday of Corey D. Thomas, 31, as a "person of interest" in the death of Megan Neely. The two dated briefly this year.

Investigators do not believe her killing was random.

Police investigators will travel to Florida to speak with Thomas about Neely, whose body was found in her home in the 400 block of Milton Street N.

"I don't know what led us to believe he was down there," said police spokesman Howie Padilla.

Thomas is being held on a warrant issued by the Minnesota Department of Corrections.

Neely's family and police had been trying to find Neely for several days. Family members became concerned after they were unable to contact her. A relative called police Saturday night and met officers at the home. Officers and the relative checked the home and found nothing amiss.

They returned to the home Monday and found her body.

Thomas, who has a violent past, was released from prison in June. He pleaded guilty in Ramsey County District Court in 2009 to two counts of second-degree assault. According to those charges: Thomas had been drinking and argued with his then-girlfriend, who was trying to break up with him. He punched her in the head and body a few times and pushed her to the floor.

The girlfriend's stepfather tried to pull Thomas away. Thomas pulled a box cutter and cut the man and the girlfriend on their heads, the complaint said.

Thomas threatened to murder everyone in the house and chased a 14-year-old with the box cutter, court documents show. He later told police that although he had no memory of committing the acts, voices in his head told him to do it.

A fund has been set up to help pay for Neely's funeral costs and to help her 10-year-old and 14-month-old daughters. Donations can be made at any TCF Bank "In Loving Memory of Megan Neely." A Facebook page, "Fundraiser for Megan Neely," is also accepting PayPal contributions.

A memorial and spaghetti dinner benefit with a silent auction is planned for Oct. 30, 2-8 p.m. at the Downtown Alano, 520 N. Robert St., St. Paul.

Anyone wishing to contribute can contact Janel Bauer at 651-503-7614.

"She didn't deserve this," said Bauer, a friend. "We love her very much."

cxiong@startribune.com612-270-4708pwalsh@startribune.com • 612-673-4482

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