Henry Love just wanted a smoke Thursday morning.

He didn't have a lighter, so he walked through his housemate's part of their two-story duplex unit in north Minneapolis to get a light from the stove.

Partway there, he said Saturday, he was stopped short by the smell of gasoline. And he noticed that his housemate's things were out of place. Doors were open that normally aren't. He peered into a back room where Lolitta Marie Malone, 43, ordinarily slept and found her lying amid a lot of blood, with a gas can sitting beside her body. She had been stabbed to death.

No suspect has been charged in Malone's death, the city's 40th homicide of 2012, police said Saturday.

Love and Malone lived together in the duplex on the 2300 block of Queen Avenue N. They had been in a relationship that lasted 10 years, but it ended two years ago. Four months ago, they moved in together as housemates and friends, Love said. "She was a nice person," he said.

Malone, who was from Indiana, had lived in north Minneapolis for many years, he said. He said he believes she has grown children who live in the area.

Love said no one else was in the house Thursday morning when he found Malone's body. Police have said she was killed about 3:30 a.m. Before he came upon her body, Love said, he had no idea anything was amiss.

He called police and waited upstairs for them to arrive. He said he believes the killer left through the back door, because police told him it was open, while the front door remained locked.

Love said he'll remain in the house, though family members may stay with him for a time.

"I feel safe," he said. If he had been in danger, he said, "they would've got me when they got her."

Maria Elena Baca • 612-673-4409