Boyfriend charged with murder in Coon Rapids stabbing death

  • Article by: PAUL LEVY
  • Star Tribune
  • October 14, 2011 - 9:13 PM

A 44-year-old Coon Rapids woman was fatally stabbed Thursday at her apartment in Coon Rapids. The man she had been seeing since summertime -- whose criminal record encompasses more than 20 years -- faces murder charges in connection with her death.

Susan M. Courteau was found dead Thursday in her blood-stained apartment by her sister, authorities said. Courteau's boyfriend, Patrick W. Benton, 54, was charged Friday with second-degree murder in Anoka County District Court, three days after he completed a 75-day sentence for assaulting a roommate.

On Thursday morning, Benton was thrown out of Courteau's apartment building, Wedgewood Place, in the 10300 block of Hanson Boulevard NW., after she and the building manager told Coon Rapids police he was trespassing. Officers drove Benton to his sister's home in Coon Rapids.

According to court documents, Benton and Courteau talked on the phone throughout the day. Benton said he wanted to get his personal items from the apartment.

The criminal complaint said Benton went to Courteau's apartment about 2 p.m. Thursday. Between 3 and 3:15 p.m., several neighbors saw him on the deck.

One neighbor, Hannah Ponder, 21, said Courteau seemed in good spirits earlier in the day. "It's going good," she told Ponder.

Ponder said that was the last she saw of Courteau -- and she believes she is the last person to have spoken to her.

At 6:36 p.m. Thursday, Benton was seen on video withdrawing $2,000 from a cash machine about 2 miles from the apartment. He was then seen inside a Target buying shoes and clothing, according to court documents.

From there, Benton went to his sister's home about 7:30 p.m. A nephew told authorities that Benton was acting oddly and changing his clothes under a pine tree. The nephew told authorities that Benton said he needed "a cooling-off period" after having a fight with his girlfriend.

Although police never found a weapon, two knives were missing from Courteau's kitchen.

According to the Anoka County medical examiner, Courteau suffered multiple sharp-force injuries and injuries that were "defensive in nature." Blood was found smeared on a shower curtain.

At the home of Benton's sister, police found a Target bag next to trash bins, according to court documents. Inside the bag were a pair of jeans and a shirt. Both had blood on them.

Benton has a long record with police, dating back to 1977, Anoka County Attorney Tony Palumbo said. According to state court records, his crimes ranged from misdemeanor shoplifting to drug possession, receiving stolen property and felony domestic assault. In 2010, authorities tried to have him committed to a state facility for chemical dependency. It was not clear Friday whether he served any time there.

Anoka County Sheriff's Cmdr. Paul Sommer said Benton and Courteau met while they were in some kind of facility. He would not elaborate.

Staff writer Paul Walsh contributed to this report. Paul Levy • 612-673-4419

© 2018 Star Tribune