Police say they believe the same man killed two women whose bodies were found in cars at Twin Cities impound lots.

Alberto P. Palmer, charged in the February killing of 18-year-old Brittany Clardy of St. Paul, is suspected in the death of Klaressa Cook, authorities said. Cook, 24, who recently moved to the Twin Cities from Georgia, was identified Wednesday as the person whose body was discovered in the trunk of a car last week in Minneapolis.

Brooklyn Park Police Inspector Todd Milburn said authorities took the unusual step of releasing Palmer’s name before charges were filed to reassure the public that they don’t feel there is a risk to broader safety.

“It was safe to say the evidence gathered so far points us in this direction,” Milburn said.

Authorities are not saying why they consider Palmer a suspect in Cook’s death or when she was killed, and Milburn declined to discuss the investigation further.

Palmer, 24, of Woodbury, has been in Anoka County jail since early March, when he was arrested in connection with Clardy’s death.

He previously lived in Georgia and is charged with violent physical and sexual assaults against three women in that state between September and December of 2012.

Milburn said that there isn’t any indication of other victims locally, but that authorities are doing “their due diligence to investigate this aspect.”

Phone call with sister

On Wednesday, Cook’s sister Arianna Russell said she had last heard from Klaressa on Jan. 19. Typically, Cook would call home once or twice a week, Russell said from Georgia. During that last call, Cook said she was in Minnesota, had a job at a car dealership and was living in a hotel.

“She said she was doing really good,” said Russell, 20, the youngest of six children who were raised by their mother. “We didn’t like her being so far away and not knowing. She didn’t give us too much information, but she let us know she was happy.”

On Friday, Russell said, local police came to the family’s home and broke the news of her death.

“They won’t tell us how she died,” Russell said.

Cook’s body was in the trunk of a car that had been towed April 11 from the Rainbow Foods parking lot at 8020 Brooklyn Blvd. in Brooklyn Park to Wrecker Services Inc. at 200 E. Lyndale Av. N., according to Brooklyn Park police. The body was discovered May 20 by lot employees who detected a foul odor.

Russell and another sister both said that they had never heard of the man suspected in Cook’s killing.

Russell said Cook had moved out of her mother’s home in Gainesville, Ga., several months before that last call to live with a boyfriend, who they said was not Palmer. “They traveled and everything. … He was really rich. He took her to Los Angeles, New York, stuff like that” before they broke up.” The Clardy case

Palmer was arrested March 6 in connection with Clardy’s death and has been charged with first-degree murder in that case. Authorities said Clardy had been working as a prostitute and that Palmer met her through the online website backpage.com.

He is accused of striking Clardy multiple times in the head with a hammer on Feb. 11. The killing allegedly took place in a Brooklyn Park home after the two had sex, according to court records.

Clardy’s body was found Feb. 21 in a vehicle that had been towed from a Brooklyn Park apartment complex to an impound lot in Columbia Heights.

When Palmer made his initial court appearance on March 8, Anoka County prosecutors argued for a high bail, saying that Palmer had tried to contact 30 to 40 women through backpage.com during the short time he was in Minnesota before his arrest. He remains in jail on $2 million bail.

In one of the Georgia cases in which he is charged, Palmer allegedly met a woman on backpage.com, had sex with her, then beat and bound her and stuffed her in a closet overnight. He then had sex with her while she was bound the next morning, wrapped her in a blanket and “severely beat her,” according to court documents filed in the Clardy case.

Ultimately, she was able to escape when he got out of a car where he had placed her, the documents said.

Palmer had lived in the Chicago area and served prison time in Cook County, Ill., in 2009 for stealing a car. He moved to Chamblee, 15 miles northeast of Atlanta, last August to help run a chicken and waffle restaurant.

Lorraine Major, one of Palmer’s sisters, was stunned upon hearing the latest news concerning her brother.

“He’s not a bad person,” she said Wednesday from Iowa City. “He works a lot, maybe too much. And he’s had problems drinking.”

Major said that she has not seen her brother in five years, but said he remains close with all of his seven siblings. Two brothers and a sister live in the Twin Cities, she said.

Palmer grew up one of eight children in Chicago. Major said their mother has long suffered from “mental issues” and described her brother as “sort of a loner.”

She said he “was a nerd as a teenager. He didn’t have any friends.” She said “a couple of times during his teenage years, he got into trouble,” but she would not elaborate.

Major added that Palmer excelled as a cook. Asked where he learned that art, she replied, “the Cook County jail.”

 

Staff writer Paul Levy contributed to this report.