A violent felon who targeted a rural Mille Lacs County home for burglary fatally stabbed the man who lived there and was caught hiding in a shed elsewhere in the area, according to charges filed Thursday.
Harlan D. Swanson, 30, of Onamia, Minn., was charged in District Court with second-degree murder, first-degree burglary and other counts in connection with the killing of the resident in the home Monday in Onamia Township in the 200 block of Pony Farm Road.
Swanson remains jailed in lieu of $1 million bail ahead of a May 12 court appearance. His attorney was not immediately available for comment.
The victim was identified as Daniel J. Nelson, 67, according to the Midwest Medical Examiner's office.
According to the charges:
A sheriff's deputy and Onamia police officer responding to a welfare check request located Nelson's body in the living room covered with a blanket. He was stabbed twice in the middle of his chest and had a large slash across his throat.
The deputy noticed blood leading to the basement and a fresh bootprint there. A basement window was pushed from the inside out, prompting law enforcement to search the surrounding area with a K-9 and a drone from the Mille Lacs Band Tribal Police Department.
A second deputy and investigators attempted to enter a shed on property three-fourths of a mile from the scene of the killing, but the door was barricaded.
The deputy heard someone inside, and Swanson allowed entry and was arrested. He was wearing boots with a tread pattern that matched the one where Nelson was killed.
Swanson told his pursuers that he broke into the home to steal items, got into a conflict with Nelson and stabbed him. Seeing Nelson might survive, Swanson explained, he "finished him off" by slashing his throat. It's unclear whether the two knew one another.
Swanson's criminal history includes a conviction in 2009 for sexually assaulting a 15-year-old runaway girl when he was 19 years old. He pleaded guilty, was sentenced to prison in 2013 and released in 2017 as a registered predatory offender. He also has on his record convictions for theft and property damage.