A first-degree murder indictment was returned Wednesday against a homeless man accused of bludgeoning an Oak Park Heights resident with a billy club.
Nathan Nigel Anthony Eldredge, 24, was charged in April with second-degree murder with intent for allegedly killing Nils Johnson. Wednesday’s indictment, returned by a Washington County grand jury, replaces the previous, lesser charge.
“We felt as the investigation continued that this wasn’t just an intentional killing, but a premeditated one,” said Fred Fink, chief of the criminal division in the County Attorney’s office.
Arraignment is scheduled in court in Stillwater on Thursday, Fink said.
Johnson, 39, had been diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenic. He had worked as a cook at a McDonald’s restaurant in Oak Park Heights for two years.
On April 14, police found his 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.
According to the initial criminal complaint:
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.
Investigators found clothing in the washing machine “that appeared too small for the victim and stained with a significant amount of blood,” the complaint said.
Eldredge, who has family in Tennessee, was found in Cook County, Ill., in the days after the killing, but waived extradition and was booked into the Washington County jail.
Details of grand jury proceedings aren’t made public.