A Minneapolis man already facing charges in a fatal shooting at a downtown parking ramp earlier this month is now accused of killing a woman five days later in her backyard on St. Paul’s East Side, adding another twist to a tangled investigation spanning both sides of the river.
Prosecutors in Hennepin County on Monday charged Christopher M. Todd, 19, in the slaying of Ronald Smith on Aug. 14. The following day, the Ramsey County Attorney’s office filed charges of their own, alleging he was also responsible for killing 61-year-old Teresa A. Bear Ribs as she watched her young grandchildren.
Todd, who jail records show remains in custody in lieu of $1 million bond, faces charges of second-degree murder in both cases. According to the criminal complaints:
In the most recent homicide, an accomplice drove Todd to the alley behind Bear Ribs’ home in the 1100 block of Bush Avenue in St. Paul on the evening of Aug. 19, where he intended to confront her daughter.
Todd was reportedly there to inquire about the death of his friend Shane Boswell, 23, who was killed during a break-in in south Minneapolis last week. Boswell was dating Bear Ribs’ daughter.
Todd claimed to hear a single shot come from the residence, which sent him running back to the car. But his driver told investigators that he saw Todd with a handgun after he returned and admitted to shooting Bear Ribs point-blank. A neighbor’s surveillance camera caught Todd, wearing distinctive multicolored shoes, walking into the yard and running back toward the getaway vehicle seconds later.
At the time of the shooting, relatives say Bear Ribs was babysitting her three young granddaughters. She answered a knock at the door while on the phone with her husband of nearly 37 years, who heard her respond to the visitor, apparently demanding to see their daughter. “She’s not here. She’s at the store,” she reportedly told the shooter. Her last words before the line went dead: “What are you doing?!”
Her 27-year-old daughter returned from the gas station minutes later to find Bear Ribs unresponsive, with a gunshot wound to the head. She could not be revived.
“I was five minutes too late,” said her daughter, who asked not to be named for fear of her safety. “They were coming for me.”
The woman suspects that men associated with her boyfriend’s “criminal activities” were trying to find her because she had access to his social media accounts — and possible evidence. She told the Star Tribune she remotely disabled Boswell’s cellphone the night of his death and changed his social media passwords.
“I made bad decisions and hung out with bad people,” she said, sobbing. “I don’t have a mom anymore and it’s all my fault. I have to live with that the rest of my life.”
Todd had previously been questioned in connection with the earlier death of Smith, who regularly drove down from his home in St. Cloud to stay at a downtown Minneapolis hotel. Detectives reviewed surveillance footage from the ramp, which showed Smith interacting with another man, later identified as Todd.
When police initially brought Todd in for questioning, he told them that he didn’t know Smith, but had been sitting in his Dodge Charger when another car entered the ramp and someone from that car shot Smith. Todd said he was so overcome by emotion that he cried as he pulled Smith out of the Charger and onto the ramp ground, before driving away.
But, when detectives visited the crime scene they determined that Todd’s story was implausible, the complaint says.
Detectives later interviewed an alleged accomplice of Todd’s who said Todd had bragged to them about “partying” with the victim, before saying that “my last smack, I hit him one time in his head” — which prosecutors say is street slang for shooting someone. No motive was ever given. The accomplice told police that Todd had either traded away or sold the murder weapon — a .38-caliber pistol with a pink or purple finish — after the shooting.
Todd was also charged with attempted second-degree murder by drive-by for allegedly firing at an undercover law enforcement agent at a funeral on Aug. 21.
Earlier that day, Todd and his 23-year-old brother, Zeontae, had met up with Maurice June and asked him to drive them in a black Dodge Charger to the funeral at the Washburn-McReavy Hillside Cemetery in St. Anthony.
About 3:15 p.m., Todd fired at a man the suspects mistook for a member of the Native Mob gang, but who was actually an undercover Minnesota Department of Corrections officer conducting surveillance at the funeral.
The three suspects fled the scene in the Charger, leading the undercover officer on a brief chase, before crashing near the intersection of Stinson Boulevard and E. 39th Avenue, according to a criminal complaint.
June and Zeontae Todd were quickly apprehended, and a K-9 later tracked Todd to a nearby apartment building, where he was also arrested. A gun was recovered nearby.
June, 31, was charged with attempted second-degree murder by drive-by shooting and Zeontae Todd was charged with aiding an offender, accomplice after the fact.