A 41-year-old man with a long and violent gang history lured a Minneapolis real estate agent to a Maple Grove home she was showing so he could abduct and kill her with a gunshot to the head, according to charges filed Monday.
Cedric L. Berry, of Minneapolis, was charged in Hennepin County District Court with second-degree murder and kidnapping in connection with the death of Monique Baugh, a 28-year-old Realtor who police suspect was kidnapped and driven in a rental truck to Minneapolis, where she was found shot in an alley in the 1300 block of N. Russell Avenue.
“I cannot begin to describe how vicious the behavior was in this case,” County Attorney Mike Freeman said in a statement. “We have charged Mr. Berry with setting a trap for Ms. Baugh, assassinating her at close range and shooting at her boyfriend while in [a] house with two small children. We are seeking high bail and will do all in our power to prove him guilty.”
A spokesman for Freeman said no decision has been made yet about whether prosecutors will seek a first-degree murder charge, which would raise the possibility upon conviction of a life sentence without the chance of parole.
Berry was booked into jail Friday and remains held in lieu of $2 million bail ahead of a court appearance Tuesday. Court records do not yet list an attorney for him.
The criminal complaint did not specify a motive for the killing, but search warrant affidavits filed Friday tied her killing to a suspected drug rivalry between Berry and Baugh’s boyfriend, who survived being shot that same day at the home he shared with Baugh and their two small children, the documents said.
The complaint did say that police learned her boyfriend had recently signed a rap music contract and “had been flaunting his cash on social media.”
The boyfriend, who goes by the moniker “Momoh,” mourned Baugh on Facebook with “#RIPMYQUEEN” and a broken heart emoji. He’s cut a song that featured Nipsey Hussle, who was shot and killed in Los Angeles last spring. Momoh also performed in March at the highly regarded SXSW Music Conference in Austin, Texas.
A long criminal record
Berry’s criminal history in Minnesota spans his adult life, starting at age 18 when he was picked up on a probation violation while running with the Bogus Boyz street gang.
In 2001, he was driving a car in north Minneapolis when his passenger shot and killed a rival gang member in retaliation for an earlier gang-related killing. Berry was charged with second-degree murder, pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was given a five-year sentence.
Additional convictions included two for drug dealing, two for drug possession, and one each for aggravated robbery, illegal weapons possession and fleeing police.
While in prison serving time in 2017 for one of the drug convictions, Berry allegedly beat a corrections officer with his fists after being told to end a phone conversation. The officer suffered a broken nose and bruises. A verdict in that case is pending as well as one on a felony drug possession charge filed March 2019 in Hennepin County.
According to the complaint in Baugh’s killing and other court filings:
Baugh’s wounded boyfriend called 911 about 5:40 p.m. last Tuesday from the couple’s home. Police arrived and saw that he had been shot several times. The couple’s two daughters, both under age 5, were inside and uninjured.
The boyfriend said a masked shooter came through the front door and opened fire, sending the boyfriend upstairs screaming, “I am dead already! My babies are here!”
Less than an hour later, ShotSpotter technology detected gunfire near an alley in the 1300 block of N. Russell Avenue. Responding officers found Baugh shot in the torso and in the face at close range. Her hands were bound by tape.
Police investigators determined that the rental truck had been at both shooting locations and tracked down Baugh’s car outside the Maple Grove home she had been showing.
Earlier in the afternoon, video from a neighbor’s surveillance camera recorded someone getting out of the rental truck and walking toward the front door of the Maple Grove home. Minutes later, the truck backed up to the garage and someone exited the garage while “closely, if not forcibly, holding onto” a third person as the two climbed into the back of the vehicle before it departed.
The boyfriend told police that Baugh went to the Maple Grove home because someone who called her personal cellphone wanted to see the residence. He said numerous people knew of his relationship with Baugh but he didn’t believe those individuals knew where he and Baugh lived.
No one else in the case has been charged, but “the investigation continues,” said County Attorney’s Office spokesman Chuck Laszewski.
Authorities located the truck parked outside the Mounds View business that had rented it out. The cargo area had a strong smell of ammonia. Also inside were four press-on fingernails that were identical to one found during a police search of the Maple Grove home.
Truck traded for heroin
Two people listed on the rental agreement told police that Berry wanted the truck because he was moving to Maple Grove. The witnesses said they turned over the truck to Berry in exchange for heroin.
Baugh’s father, Frank Baugh, said the filing of charges against Berry “made me feel a little bit better, not 100%, but better than I had been feeling.”
Frank Baugh said he plans to help care for his two granddaughters.
Monique Baugh was an agent for Kris Lindahl Real Estate, a home sales businesses in the Twin Cities. The company started an online fundraising effort on behalf of Baugh’s survivors, including her 1- and 3-year-old daughters, and pledged to match the first $10,000 in donations. That amount has already been surpassed. A second effort has raised $16,000.
“The world lost someone amazing when Monique Baugh passed away on December 31st,” a note on the Kris Lindahl page reads. “Monique was a beautiful person who was kind and compassionate. She made an impact on everyone she met. She was very driven and a joy to be around. ... She was a loving mother who always put her daughters first.”