Shorewood neighbors describe murder suspect as unfriendly

  • Updated: August 23, 2013 - 12:39 AM

A man who died suspiciously apparently was reported missing from home of a reclusive woman, now in custody.

A 29-year-old Shorewood woman is being held on suspicion of slaying a man, whom medical examiners have yet to identify.

Neighbors, including Jim Redding, 53, said detectives had come knocking on their doors with a photo of a man with salt-and-pepper hair and a dark complexion, and who appeared to be either black or Hispanic. They were told the man was missing and asked whether they’d seen him.

Wednesday afternoon, South Lake Minnetonka police searched the duplex at 5700 Wood Duck Circle as part of an investigation involving a man who had been reported missing. Police Chief Bryan Litsey issued a statement saying they had found a body and that the death appeared suspicious.

The Hennepin County medical examiner’s office late Thursday confirmed that the deceased person was male but said positive identification, as well as cause and manner of the death, were not yet determined.

The missing man, who had been staying or living at the house in the quiet cul-de-sac not far from Excelsior, was last seen by neighbors about two or three weeks ago, said Blaine and Tana Breault, who live next door to the duplex, which remained circled with yellow police tape Thursday night.

A South Lake Minnetonka officer remained outside the home as neighbors told of a reclusive woman being arrested Wednesday — and then watching a corpse in a blue body bag being removed from the house.

Neighbors said they’d seen a man at the home, sometimes mowing the lawn or shopping nearby with the woman. She had moved in about a year ago with her two young sons and daughter.

A couple of weeks ago, Blaine Breault said, other neighbors had heard arguing, and then the man from next door showed up at their door. He said that the woman had turned his cellphone to “airplane mode” and that he wanted help to turn off that setting.

(Placing a phone or other electronic device on airplane mode suspends many devices’ signal transmitting functions, making it impossible to send phone calls or texts on certain phones. Certain phones allow 911 calls to be made even in that setting, but not all phones do.)

The missing man was known to wave at neighbors or nod when he saw them shopping, but the woman seemed to shun contact, neighbors said. Her young daughter and two young sons loved to play outside and meet friends, they added.

“She was reclusive,” said Tana Breault, 50. “She wasn’t friendly. She kept to herself. You never saw her unless she was getting the mail.”

The woman would be quick to pull in and out of her garage in her car, Tana and Blaine Breault said.

But last fall, the neighbors said, they saw her resisting arrest and heard her yelling at police. It wasn’t clear why she was dragged out of her house, kicking and screaming at officers who were trying to subdue her. Police called an ambulance after she claimed she was hurt, Tana Breault said.

The woman went to high school in Chicago, and she lived in Duluth before moving to Shorewood, records show.

Neighbors said they hadn’t seen the children living in the home for about a week. No information about their whereabouts was available.

The Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office and Hennepin County medical examiner’s office also are investigating.

Joy Powell • 612-673-7750

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