A homeless man accused in the beating death of a mentally ill Oak Park Heights resident was returned to Minnesota on Wednesday and made his first appearance in Washington County District Court.
Nathan Nigel Anthony Eldredge, 24, fled to Cook County, Ill., in the days after the killing, but waived extradition and was booked into the Washington County jail.
He was charged April 16 with second-degree murder with intent for allegedly bludgeoning Nils Johnson to death with a billy club. Police found Johnson’s body, seated upright, in his closet under a stack of clothes. His hands were bound with tape and a plastic bag had been pulled over his head.
Johnson, 39, had been diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenic. He had worked as a cook at a McDonald’s restaurant in Oak Park Heights the past two years, his mother, Diane Johnson, said in an earlier interview.
According to a criminal complaint filed against Eldredge:
Two neighbors reported hearing “blood curdling screams” from a residence at 14655 62nd St. where Johnson lived alone. Investigators discovered a mattress had been flipped to hide bloodstains. They also found a pair of handcuffs, a large bloodstain on the bedroom carpet and an old-style police baton, known as a billy club. Johnson had been struck in the head 10 times.
Evidence of an assailant included “clothing found in the washing machine that appeared too small for the victim and stained with a significant amount of blood,” the criminal complaint said.
Eldredge didn’t ask for a public defender during his court appearance Wednesday.
Bail was set at $2 million, without conditions, or $1 million on the condition that he have no contact with the 62nd Street address in Oak Park Heights where the murder occurred, said Fred Fink, who heads the criminal division in the County Attorney’s office.
Eldredge will next appear in court in front of District Judge Richard Ilkka on May 29.
Eldredge has family in Tennessee “and has been known to flee the state to avoid previous criminal proceedings,” the complaint said.