The man who brutally beat his former neighbor to death early Friday in Hopkins used an ax-like tool to carry out the killing, according to murder charges filed in Hennepin County District Court.
Mitchell Edward Hoogenakker, 24, admitted that he had been at the home of John Gallagher, Jr. on the 200 block of 10th Avenue N. in defiance of a restraining order, and confessed to the vicious attack that left Gallagher with numerous wounds to his back and head, the charges filed Monday said.
Gallagher, 67, died of from "multiple chop wounds", according to an autopsy report released Monday by the Hennepin County medical examiner.
Officers were called to the home around 3:40 a.m. by Gallagher's wife who heard a loud noise at the front door and saw Hoogenakker trying to break in. Once inside, she said she saw Hoogenakker drag Gallagher out onto the lawn. A roommate, who also lived at the house on 10th Avenue, told police that he heard the impact of a weapon on a body and observed Hoogenakker as he walked away from the scene.
Police found Gallagher dead on his front lawn of injuries that appeared to have been delivered by an "ax-like tool," the charges said.
Officers used a K-9 that led them to a house on the 300 block of 9th Avenue. That is where they found Hoogenakker and the tool called a splitting maul. The maul was in a closet and had blood on it. The tool, which had Hoogenakker's name etched into the shaft, also had dark hair fibers which matched those of the victim, the charges said.
Hoogenakker was arrested without incident. He remained in the Hennepin County jail on Monday afternoon in lieu of $1 million bond. He is scheduled to appear in court at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday to face charges of second-degree murder with intent.
On Sunday, neighbors, friends and about eight Hopkins police officers attended a vigil held on 10th Avenue to remember Gallagher, who was the kind of guy who regularly checked on his 100-year-old neighbor.
"He was a good guy," said Sgt. Michael Glassberg of the Hopkins Police Department. He said officers on the force "knew him well."
The killing shocked neighbors who said there had been a long-running dispute between the two men. Hoogenakker used to live next door to Gallagher, but had moved off 10th Avenue about four years ago to a house a block away.
Things appeared to have escalated in recent months. Gallagher reported to police that he had received threats from Hoogenakker and that his property had been vandalized. In July, Gallagher filed for and was granted a restraining order, which prevented Hoogenaker from being on the 200 block of 10th Avenue, including sidewalks and the alley behind Gallagher's house.
In June and July, Gallagher said Hoogenakker walked by his home in "zombielike fashion," yelled obscenities and threatened to harm him by saying things like, "I've got a slug for you," according to the restraining order issued on July 27.
"He was concerned for his safety," Glassberg said. "The victim did everything right. He did not deserve this. It's so unfortunate on so many levels."
This was Hopkins' first homicide since 2009.