Law enforcement in central Minnesota is looking into whether revenge was behind the fatal shooting of a man whose body was put in a container and abandoned near the Lake Mille Lacs shoreline, according to newly filed court documents.
Bradley A. Weyaus, 21, of Isle, Minn., was charged last week in Mille Lacs County District Court with second-degree intentional murder, fleeing police and interference with a body in connection with the death of Rodney Pendegayosh Jr., 25, who lived in the Isle area.
Also charged last week with aiding an offender after the fact was Weyaus' girlfriend, Alexis M. Elling, 22, of Rochester. Both remain jailed ahead of court appearances April 4.
While the charges did not point to a possible motive for the killing, search warrant affidavits filed Monday suggest that Pendegayosh was killed in retaliation for the overdose death of Elling's brother in January.
Elling was overheard by someone close to her family saying that Pendegayosh was "bragging about strengthening the drugs that ultimately caused" 23-year-old Brandon Elling's death, read the affidavits, which were filed in pursuit of court approval to search social media accounts associated with the principals in Pendegayosh's death.
"No one has been charged in connection with that death at this point, and that investigation is still ongoing," Sheriff Kyle Burton told the Star Tribune on Monday. "We are still in the process of trying to determine what role, if any, Rodney Pendegayosh Jr. or possibly others played in Brandon's death."
The charges also have not specified when Pendegayosh was killed, but the affidavits disclosed that Weyaus sought help from his girlfriend's mother and another person to "move a heavy tote out of his apartment" on March 15.
That was six days before highway workers came upon the container while on routine assignment near the lake's southwest shore. The workers looked inside and saw a severed foot "along with something wrapped in a tarp," the affidavits read.
According to the criminal complaints:
Law enforcement was sent to the location of the container's discovery and saw buckshot from shotgun shells in Pendegayosh's neck.
An investigator who was driving to the scene saw a white Saturn associated with Weyaus and pursued it as the driver accelerated. The investigator soon broke off the pursuit and continued to the container's location.
Other law enforcement took up the chase and located the Saturn nearby on a rural property on Southport Road. Weyaus hid in a trailer on the property but soon surrendered. He had two duffel bags with a hammer, hacksaw and industrial tape inside that appeared to match the tape on the abandoned container. A search of his vehicle turned up a spent shotgun shell.
At the time of his arrest, Weyaus was wanted on unrelated charges in central Minnesota for possessing drug paraphernalia, theft, burglary and lottery ticket fraud.