Two men were charged Monday with murder in the January killing of an elderly St. Paul woman who they had been bilking financially for shoddy yard work.
Kevin Reek, 46, of St. Paul, and Richard Daniel Thomas Joles, 29, of Houston, Texas, were charged in Ramsey County District Court with one count each of second-degree murder with intent and second-degree murder without intent.
They are accused in the murder of Myong Ki Gossel, 79, who died of "closed head trauma" between Jan. 2 and 4. Jones had previously performed yard work for Gossel.
Joles' longtime girlfriend told police that Reek called her at one point and said that Joles " 'screwed him' " on the job and " '[expletive] him out of $16,000.' "
"Reek said, 'I killed the old woman. She's no good no more. Now everyone is going down for this,' " the charges said.
According to the complaint: Gossel's longtime friends went to check on her about 4:15 p.m. on Jan. 4 because they hadn't heard from her since Jan. 1. The couple saw that her mail had not been collected, her front door was ajar and her home had been ransacked. They found her bruised, battered and partly clothed body in the basement laundry room area.
Medics pronounced Gossel dead in her home in the 2300 block of Nokomis Avenue.
Gossel's friends told authorities that she had tree and yard work done last summer, and the workers "did not seem legitimate and did shoddy work," the charges said.
"Gossel had mentioned to the couple that the workers had returned around Christmas and stolen money from her," according to the complaint. She did not report the incident to police.
Police found fingerprints on a file cabinet and a jewelry box in Gossel's bedroom that were both traced back to Joles. He was arrested on Jan. 3 for an out-of-state warrant, and was in custody at the Hennepin County jail.
Joles spoke to investigators on Jan. 9 and Jan. 12, and allegedly said that Gossel had previously paid him in cash, and once with a $3,000 check. The most Gossel ever paid him was a total of $9,000.
When authorities showed Joles a picture of Gossel's face without telling him how she died, he said, "I know she's been beaten to death."
Joles then allegedly gave police Reek's name and said he was the only person capable of such behavior. Jones told police that he and Reek, whom he described as a drug addict, drove to Minnesota from Indiana " 'to do the job' ," the charges said.
Joles told the police that he couldn't get more money from Gossel because he had "tapped her so many times," but that Reek was a new face.
Joles allegedly said he drove Reek to Gossel's home about noon on Jan. 2, dropped him off in the alley, decided it was a bad idea and honked the horn to get Reek's attention. Reek returned to the truck and the men argued.
Joles allegedly drove Reek and another man who was with them to another location. Jones and the other man left in a cab, leaving Reek behind with the truck, which was his.
Joles ultimately admitted that he and the other man had gone to Gossel's home without Reek between 8-9 a.m. on Jan. 2, and obtained $350 from her. Jones said that over time, he had obtained a total of $18,000 from Gossel.
Reek was arrested on Jan. 12 in Illinois for a probation violation out of Tennessee for a 2007 case in which he and two others tied, beat up and robbed an elderly couple in their home.
When St. Paul investigators went to speak with Reek, he denied ever being in Minnesota and said he wanted a lawyer present. The interview was terminated. He is awaiting extradition to Minnesota.
Joles is in the Hennepin County jail on the out-of-state warrant.