A man set on fire and killed his former girlfriend in her St. Paul workplace Tuesday morning, then went to his unoccupied home in Bloomington and torched it, police said.
The 47-year-old man was quickly arrested near his residence and soon turned over to St. Paul police, who questioned him ahead of booking him into jail on suspicion of murder, St. Paul police Sgt. Natalie Davis said.
The woman was "unresponsive and not breathing and appeared to have been badly burned" by the time officers found her around 9 a.m. inside a long-haul trucking facility in the 1700 block of Wynne Avenue near the intersection of Snelling and Como avenues, police said.
Emergency responders declared the woman dead at the scene. Specifics about her cause and manner of death will be determined by the Ramsey County Medical Examiner's Office.
The woman and the man "had been in a previous relationship," Davis said, without offering specifics.
Officials have yet to release the identity of the woman, who is the city's 11th homicide victim this year. Davis said she worked at the facility, which is operated by SBS Group of Companies.
The man's father said the woman was 44 years old and the mother to three children. The father said his son was a truck driver who worked out of the same building as the woman.
He also said his son has had psychological difficulties that required a court-ordered commitment for several weeks in mid-2021 for mental health treatment.
About that same time last year, according to court records, an order for protection was sought by the woman. They were romantically involved for more than a decade until last summer and shared a home for some of the years they were together until 2018, her court filing disclosed.
In what she described as the latest round of physical abuse from the man, the woman said last June he assaulted her, threatened to kill her and drugged her without her knowledge, the order for protection request alleged. The woman requested the protection order be dismissed after less than a month.
"He was fixated on the occult and devil worship," the father told the Star Tribune. "They were out to get him. I thought he was going crazy."
He had been "doing good in terms of not drinking and doing drugs," the father continued. "But he's been acting weird."
In 2013, another woman sought a court order for protection from the man. She alleged he was extremely abusive and would call and text her incessantly.
Fire officials in Bloomington were notified roughly 15 minutes after the woman's death that the man's home was on fire.
Officers on the scene of the blaze "observed a vehicle described by neighbors as leaving the address of the fire," Bloomington Deputy Police Chief Kimberly Clauson said. The man got out of the vehicle and officers immediately arrested him, Clauson said.
Police have identified the suspect by name, but the Star Tribune generally does not identify suspects before they are charged. The man's criminal history in Minnesota includes numerous convictions for assault.