Trisha Nelson was on the fence about leaving her fiancé when he killed her in the middle of a busy Plymouth intersection last week.
Those who knew her best say a long history of domestic abuse between Nelson and Corey Perry, her partner of about seven years, preceded the events that unfolded Friday night, ending with a rampage that left both dead.
“He was not a good guy,” said her friend Alexa Nelson, who is not related. “She was going back and forth a lot because she really cared about him and it’s not that easy to pack up and leave.”
Perry was controlling, and verbally and emotionally abusive, Nelson’s friends and family said.
The 28-year-old straddled the line between leaving Perry or giving him another chance, but threats of killing himself and their 12 pets often scared her into staying.
On Friday, he called her at work to pick him up from an Uptown bar. Authorities say that as they neared the apartment they shared, Perry, 28, pursued and fatally shot Nelson after she fled their car. Witnesses say he also ran her down. He later died during a shootout with police.
Nelson, originally from Alden, Minn., near Albert Lea, moved to the Twin Cities several years ago, her older sister, Tanya Fure, said Monday.
They recently chatted about Nelson’s promotion at Caterpillar Inc., where she worked the afternoon shift.
Her appearance — silicone implants on her forehead, a handful of facial piercings, and tattoos that covered about 40 percent of her body — may have shocked people, but she was the “sweetest soul” and a “genuine person,” Fure said.
“She enjoyed hobbies that were not for everyone, but it was something that made her happy,” Fure said.
Nelson and Perry met by having a similar interest in body modification and suspension, or hanging from hooks piercing the skin. Nelson’s Facebook page displays her love for the hobby in several photos and videos. In one, she hangs from a pair of hooks piercing her torso, while Perry, who also appears to be suspended by hooks in his shoulders, looks on. Another photo features her pet iguanas, Dulap and Iggy, sitting in Santa’s lap.
Minnesota court records do not show a history of domestic abuse arrests or restraining orders involving the couple, but friends say it was clear something was wrong.
During a recent trip to Omaha, Neb., with Alexa Nelson and other friends to participate at a suspension convention, Perry checked in — often several times an hour.
“Every time she went somewhere with me, he would call her constantly and it was hard to spend time with her,” Alexa Nelson said.
Co-worker Chris Hausladen said Perry and Nelson were on the phone with each other all the time during her shift, so when Nelson got a call Friday night from Perry to pick him up, Hausladen didn’t think much of it.
“I asked if she was leaving and she said ‘Yep, I’ll be right back,’ ” Hausladen said. “But she didn’t … I didn’t think that would be the last time I’d see her.”
Attorney Michael Padden, who was representing Perry in an appeal of a terroristic threats conviction for an incident involving a handgun, said Perry had been drinking at an Uptown Minneapolis bar Friday afternoon with his father and brother. After a dispute with a valet, he called Nelson to pick him up. He was agitated and had been drinking — a violation of the terms of his probation.
Friends say Perry had control issues and didn’t like Nelson being away or trying new things on her own. She was looking forward to her first airplane ride to Dallas for another convention, but Perry quashed her excitement by not wanting her to go without him. In one case, Perry wouldn’t let her travel the 100 miles to see her family, Fure said.
“It was known this was an issue she was dealing with,” said friend Erin O’Neill of Omaha.
Catherine L. Marrs Fuchsel, associate professor at the School of Social Work at St. Catherine University and the University of St. Thomas who studies domestic violence, said abusers manipulate their victims.
“These strong controlling behaviors are all signs and indicators of abuse,” Marrs Fuchsel said. “When women attempt to leave, it is the most dangerous time for lethality.”
In a memorial Fure posted to the Freeborn County Crime Victims Crisis Center Facebook page, she expressed her hope that people “use my sister’s story to find even a shred of strength to seek help.”
“My sister was in love. She loved the man who shot her after running her down like an animal hunted for sport. This didn’t happen in a day or even in a week or a year,” Fure wrote on the page. “It happened slowly over the years with little hints of control and her not being ‘allowed’ to do things.”