A fire in a second-level apartment appears to be an attempt to cover the killing of a woman in Thief River Falls. Authorities have charged a 23-year-old man with second-degree murder and first-degree arson after witnesses linked him to the scene. The criminal complaint against him described an apparent murder because a power cord was wrapped around the woman’s neck, and fabric bound her hands and feet. The fire investigator made a preliminary determination that a combustible liquid had been used to start the fire.

The woman’s grandmother said that she dropped her granddaughter off at the apartment to visit the man now charged in her death. The grandmother waited outside of the apartment for roughly an hour until she saw smoke. A tenant at the building told police that he had heard fighting in the upstairs apartment earlier in the day.

The man charged with the alleged crimes was the renter of the apartment. Shortly after the fire, he asked another man for a ride. This person alerted police to the suspect’s location and described the suspect as desperate to get out of town. When police arrested the suspect, he allegedly said that he was the only one involved in the crime. Later during interrogation, he stopped answering questions and asked for an attorney.

Anyone accused of a violent crime has the right to legal advice before making statements to authorities. An attorney might protect a person charged with homicide from giving incriminating answers when pressured by investigators to confess. Legal representation may also allow someone to understand the strength of evidence and make a choice between going to trial or pursuing a plea deal.

Source: TRF Times, “TRF man formally charged with murder“, March 29, 2019