On the same day St. Paul police revealed a 15th homicide had occurred in the city in 2007, authorities announced a suspect had been charged in the case.

Robert Clarence Ward, 42, who has no known permanent address, was charged Friday with second-degree murder in the stabbing death of Andrew K. Fierro, 43.

Fierro's sister-in-law discovered his body Tuesday in the bedroom of her N. Lexington Parkway apartment, but police believe he'd been dead since last weekend, police spokesman Tom Walsh said.

According to the complaint filed Friday in Ramsey County District Court, Ward told police he'd been drinking with Fierro in the apartment and that he stabbed Fierro in the neck after Fierro suddenly came at him "for no reason" with a butcher knife.

According to the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, both the suspect and the victim had criminal records -- five convictions apiece.

On Wednesday, a day after Fierro's body was found, Walsh said police had yet to determine a crime had occurred. On Thursday, police issued a request for the public's help in reconstructing the hours preceding Fierro's death.

The investigation eventually led to the arrests Thursday of Ward and a 36-year-old man, both of whom were booked into the Ramsey County jail on suspicion of murder.

According to the complaint, the 36-year-old man told police he had helped dispose of Ward's bloody clothing, but he denied being at the apartment.

The 36-year-old was released pending further investigation, Walsh said.

Ward is being held in lieu of $250,000 bail.

ANTHONY LONETREE