Days before the triple homicide that stunned Brooklyn Park last month, Eddie Matthew Mosley received a summons in the mail at his St. Louis home, informing him that he'd been charged with the rape of a 15-year-old relative in Minnesota and would have to appear in a Wright County court.

There was no warrant for Mosley's arrest, no police at his door. Authorities were confident that he posed no threat, since he lived 600 miles from the alleged victim.

But according to police, Mosley drove to Minnesota, and early on April 9 entered the home of DeLois Brown in Brooklyn Park, thinking his accuser was there. She wasn't. Instead, Mosley killed Brown, 59, and her elderly parents with execution-style gunshots to the head, according to second-degree murder charges against him.

"Why didn't the police just arrest him when he was being charged with criminal sexual assault?" asked James Bolden, DeLois Brown's brother and the son of victims James Bolden Sr., 83, and Clover Bolden, 81.

"Why send a summons in the mail?" Bolden asked several times.

Wright County's chief criminal prosecutor, Brian Lutes, said Tuesday he was following a Minnesota rule in criminal procedure that says a warrant is needed only if "an arrest is necessary to prevent imminent harm." Wright County authorities were convinced that the distance between the girl and Mosley and the watchful eye of the girl's mother -- Mosley's half-sister -- negated any threat, Lutes said.

"There was no indication of imminent danger," Lutes said.

He added that in 18 years on the job, he'd never known of "an act of retaliation" in a rape case.

The Hennepin County attorney's office, which is prosecuting the murder charges against Mosley, declined to comment. Richard Frase, a University of Minnesota law professor who teaches criminal law, said it seemed "unusual" to send a summons by mail for a violent crime, but added that "people do show up for court."

"You look at the nature of the crime," said Anoka County Attorney Tony Palumbo, who declined to discuss this specific case. "The more violent the crime, the more the likelihood of an arrest and an extradition."

Attack in October

Mosley is accused of raping the girl in Wright County last October, according to court records. Authorities there interviewed the girl in November and later asked that the St. Louis police interview Mosley, Lutes said. The St. Louis police apparently never conducted that interview. A spokeswoman there said Tuesday that department found no record of interaction with Wright County before April.

Convinced that they had enough evidence to charge Mosley with first-degree criminal sexual conduct, Wright County authorities mailed the summons to him April 2, with a court appearance scheduled for April 18.

According to court records, the girl's mother received a number of phone calls and text messages from Mosley between April 4 and 6. Mosley indicated that he had received the criminal complaint and summons, the records say, and told the girl's mother that she needed to "make it go away."

On April 7, Mosley asked an acquaintance to accompany him on a trip, according to the documents, and they left St. Louis on April 8 in a black Durango, with a bicycle in the back of the vehicle.

The next morning, about 6:15, a man was seen lingering outside of Brown's home day-care business on a bicycle.

According to court records, Mosley's driving companion told police that Mosley rode the bicycle back to where the Durango was parked, his face covered with blood.

Brooklyn Park police soon focused their investigation on Mosley, and got in touch with Wright County authorities, Lutes said. Mosley was arrested in St. Louis on April 13. He was brought to the Wright County jail April 28 and was charged with murder May 14.

James Bolden of Brooklyn Park said he'd never seen Mosley until the suspect appeared in Hennepin County court last Friday. Bolden's father and mother lived in suburban St. Louis until moving to Brown's home just six days before the shootings. Bolden's father used a wheelchair.

Mosley, who knew some Bolden family members, was hired by the Boldens while they lived in the St. Louis suburb of Centreville, Ill., to widen the doorway to a bathroom to enable wheelchair access, the younger Bolden said.

"He was hired to make my parents' life easier," Bolden said.

Paul Levy • 612-673-4419