Remains of a Twin Cities man who had been missing for nearly a month have been located in the waters of Lake Superior off the northernmost reaches of Minnesota's shoreline, and a man has been charged with helping with the dismemberment.
Dive teams worked Thursday and Friday recovering the remains of Richard A. Balsimo, 34, of St. Paul, in the lake near Grand Portage, the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) said Monday.
Balsimo was reported missing by his sister on June 20. As recently as early last week, police had not considered the case a suspicious disappearance. Police said the last anyone heard from Balsimo was about 2 a.m. that day when he sent a text message to the mother of his child.
That changed when the Midwest Medical Examiner's Office in Anoka ruled that Balsimo died of "homicidal violence," the BCA said.
However, the agency reported the cause and manner of his death still are pending.
In the meantime, Robert T. West, 40, of South Range, Wis., was charged Friday in Cook County District Court with being an accomplice after the fact to second-degree murder and interference with a body or the scene of a death. The charges say Balsimo's torso was recovered in a tote container by searchers.
West remains jailed across the border on unrelated illicit drug allegations ahead of his return to Minnesota.
No one else has been arrested or charged in the killing, but the complaint against West reported that he said another man shot Balsimo for reasons not yet disclosed by authorities.
According to the criminal complaint:
A woman told the BCA that she, West and a 35-year-old man all met at West's home south of Superior, Wis., on June 20, the date Balsimo was reported missing. The other man appeared nervous that something in his car might be discovered. The man said to the others, "Please don't make me tell you what I have on me," the complaint quoted him as saying. The woman also reported seeing bullet holes in a passenger seat of the car.
The car's owner then asked the woman to deliver a gun to West, who arranged to hire a commercial fisherman in Grand Portage to go out on Lake Superior.
West told the woman he wanted to dump some of his grandmother's valuables in the water.
West, the woman and the owner of the boat met in Grand Portage about 11:30 p.m. on June 22. While on the lake, the boat owner saw West drop two buckets and a large tote bag overboard. West said the tote held a dog's carcass.
The next day, West told the woman that Balsimo was "chopped up" while in a camper and that the car's owner had shot him, the complaint quoted West as saying.
With the help of a private investigation firm hired by Balsimo's family, BCA agents located one bucket and the tote, which held a torso with a bullet hole. Pants also were recovered that held a casino players card with Balsimo's name on it.
The complaint did not reveal the contents of the recovered bucket.
On Friday at the Douglas County jail, West confessed to brainstorming the plot to dispose of Balsimo's body. He also admitted to helping dismember him.
A Duluth private investigation firm, Applied Professional Services (APS), said it had "five detectives working on this case in parts of Minnesota and Wisconsin, and we were able to piece together information to assist law enforcement agencies in reaching this sad resolution."
APS President Justin Terch said in a statement Monday afternoon, "We feel deeply for the Balsimo family. No one should have to go through the terrible emotions and sad news that they have dealt with in recent weeks."
Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482