A Carver County grand jury indicted two men Wednesday on first-degree felony murder charges in the April death of a 90-year-old man.
Reinol Godines Vergara, 35, and Edson Celin-Dominguez Benitez, 30, had been charged with second-degree murder in the death of Earl Olander after his body was found bound with duct tape and severely beaten in his ransacked farmhouse in San Francisco Township.
Vergara had recently painted Olander’s house and decided he was “an easy target because he was an old man that lived alone and had money,” charges said.
Key to the arrests was a tip from a citizen who found two savings bonds issued to Olander inside a large, European-language Bible while cleaning a St. Paul apartment once occupied by Benitez.
Carver County Attorney Mark Metz said Wednesday that both men were indicted on two counts of aiding murder in the first degree.
They appeared Wednesday in Carver County District Court in Chaska, where the court set bail for each at $3 million with various additional conditions.
The county attorney’s office presented the case to the grand jury on Monday and Tuesday.
Metz said in May that Vergara and Benitez drove from the Twin Cities on April 9 or 10 with the intention of robbing Olander.
They entered the unlocked home through the back door and found Olander asleep on a couch, the charges said. Then they covered his head with a blanket and beat him with a shotgun.
“Mr. Olander struggled with the men,” Metz said. “They beat him in the face, head and body.”
Olander, a lifelong bachelor, lived in a home that had been in his family for many decades on 160 acres about halfway between Chaska and Belle Plaine. His neighbors described him as independent and generous.