Minneapolis police and the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office have deployed more than a dozen law enforcement officers to the North Side after the latest violence there: the killing of artist and community activist Susan Spiller.
Homicide detectives continued to canvass the Lind-Bohanon block where Spiller lived, interviewing neighbors and searching for clues that could lead to her killer.
Police spokesman John Elder declined to say where in the house the body was found or whether anything was stolen. Officials said that Spiller was stabbed or beaten and that the crime scene was a particularly grisly one.
Spiller’s son, Jason, 40, called the police sometime before 9 a.m., after he found the back door of her modest wood-frame house on the 5100 block of Dupont Avenue North had been kicked in.
One neighbor, Glen Schave, told detectives that he woke about 3:45 a.m. Thursday to let his dog out, and saw a “bigger SUV or pickup” truck parked in the alley behind Spiller’s house, with its lights on. Thinking nothing of it at the time, he went inside without calling police.
Another nearby resident said that a recent altercation with a troubled neighbor had left Spiller shaken and fearful. The neighbor declined to provide her name for fear of retaliation.
Several neighbors scoffed at the official assertion that the home invasion was an isolated incident, pointing to several other similar break-ins in the area in recent years.
Earlier that morning, an unidentified 42-year-old man was fatally wounded in a shooting outside a Willard-Hay home that left another man seriously wounded. Police have released few details about the man’s death, which has garnered little media attention, prompting criticism that case isn’t being taken as seriously.
KG Wilson, a longtime anti-violence activist, said that he hadn’t known Spiller, but that her death had left him shaken, given their shared passion for community activism.
“This wasn’t a gang banger or a drug dealer, or somebody who was out there dealing with this type of violence, she was innocent,” Wilson said Friday. “I’m just gonna keep going. This does not scare me away, and I hope it doesn’t scare away anybody else that does what I do.”
The killings formed a somber backdrop for a news conference Thursday afternoon outside City Hall, in which Mayor Betsy Hodges and city and police leaders reassured the public following a flare-up of violence on the North Side.
In a Facebook post Friday, City Council President Barbara Johnson said: “Susan was a great neighbor and friend who cared very deeply about her community. This was reflected in everything she did — from her beautiful artwork and jewelry to her commitment to improving her neighborhood and caring for the greyhounds that she loved. Our community is hurting very deeply from this tragic loss. Susan brought so many gifts to this community. She will be sorely missed.”
This year, the city has seen 26 homicides — up from 19 at this time last year — and more than 100 nonfatal shootings, with two thirds of those happening on the North Side. The spike in violence has prompted Minneapolis police to assign eight additional patrol officers to five separate crime “hot spots” scattered across the Fourth Precinct. The Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office also sent more deputies to patrol the area.
A memorial vigil was scheduled for Friday evening at The Warren — An Artist Habitat, a meeting space in Minneapolis for local artists.