A 25-year-old man who recently landed a new job at Ameriprise Financial and was engaged to be married was shot to death in his south Minneapolis home overnight, and police tracked a bloody trail from the crime scene in pursuit of the killer.
Shea Stremcha may have been killed after interrupting a burglary, but Police Sgt. Stephen McCarty said that "at this point in the investigation it is too early to rule out all other possible motives."
Police were called to the home, on 45th Avenue and just north of E. Lake Street, shortly after 3 a.m. Wednesday. Stremcha was dead by the time police arrived. No arrests have been made.
"People need to know that he was taken way too soon," said Alex Albers, a longtime buddy of Stremcha's who grew up with him in Northfield. "He had everything going for him."
Stremcha and his wife-to-be had moved into the home within the past year. The neighborhood of well-tended bungalows sits just two blocks off West River Parkway. Neighbors said they rarely have any serious crime.
On Wednesday morning, a law-enforcement bloodhound followed a trail of red drops from the home's side door, through the back yard and north through the alley. Police used ultraviolet lights in an effort to track the blood, and they removed the side door and boarded up the home.
"It's weird because I just met him," said Ashley Crain, who lives two doors north of the killing. "We were sleeping and our neighbor was getting murdered."
"They seemed like real sweethearts," Jerry Wehrley, another neighbor, said of Stremcha and his fiancee. "We're pretty spooked."
Albers, who now lives in Breckenridge, Colo., said he last saw his school friend when Stremcha headed out west to visit and go skiing.
"He was always a little smarter than me so I figured if I hung out with him I would end up doing better in school," said Albers. His friend had a multitude of interests, taking up pole vaulting, alpine skiing and cross-country running in high school. Stremcha also loved motorcycles, Albers said. He was a painter, and earned a bachelor's degree in art in 2008 at St. John's University in Collegeville, Minn.
"He was always kind of a jokester and upbeat. He could get along with anybody," said Jessica Wildes, an art student at the College of St. Benedict who shared several classes with Stremcha.
After college, Stremcha began looking for something more financially stable, said Albers, and eventually landed an interview at Ameriprise.
"He got the interview and the next day he was telling me how excited he was to get going on the job," Albers recalled.
Stremcha started working there about a year ago, said Ameriprise spokesman Benjamin Pratt. "We are deeply saddened by this tragedy," Pratt said. "Our thoughts are with Shea's family." Anyone with information about the killing should call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).
Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482
Matt McKinney • 612-217-1747