We Remember 2014

We Remember is a memorial to Minnesota’s victims of intimate partner homicide. Each of these victims is someone’s child, parent, sibling, family member, intimate partner, friend, neighbor, or co-worker. 

Prince Pope

Age 32

St. Paul

January 25, 2014

Prince Pope was murdered at his 32nd birthday party. Prince and his brother, Rico Jackson, were both upset about their sister having a black eye and suspected that her boyfriend, Damonta Jones, had been violent towards her. Jackson confronted Jones and was stabbed by Jones’s friend Leevester Rhodes. Prince was fatally shot as he intervened. Jones had a warrant for an outstanding felony drug charge and he was arrested with his accomplice, Leevester Rhodes.

Kiela Gem Knowles

Age 19

Park Rapids

February 23, 2014

David Leritz, 21, strangled Kiela Knowles to death on February 23, 2014. Kiela met Leritz in 2011 and reconnected online shortly before the murder. Her father found Kiela unresponsive with a pillow over her face at her Park Rapids apartment when he went to check on her. An autopsy confirmed she died of asphyxiation by strangulation. Leritz was convicted of 2nd degree murder in Kiela Knowles’ death and received a 28 year prison sentence. He had previously been convicted of Fourth Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct charge in 2012, which involved an underage female. For that crime he received 30 days in jail and 10 years of supervised probation. He is charged with a probation violation in that case, for allegedly failing to remain law abiding during his probation for that crime. Kiela Gem Knowles leaves behind a two-year old son.

Katie Ray Christopherson

Age 29

Hudson Township

February 24, 2014

On Monday, February 24, Devin Blowers, 24, shot Douglas County sheriff’s deputy Dustin Alexander before killing his girlfriend, Katie Ray Christopherson, with whom he had recently had a child. Blowers then committed suicide. The deputy was saved by his bullet-resistant vest, but Katie Christopherson died. She left behind an infant daughter and a young son.

Amelia Analesse Ramirez

Age 13 months

Cottage Grove

March 15, 2014

On March 15, Amelia Analesse Ramirez died as a result of multiple blunt-force traumatic injuries caused by her father. According to a criminal complaint, Angel Daniel Ramirez, 19, admitted during questioning that he had punched the 13-month-old girl multiple times, pulled her hair out and threw a cup that hit her eye. Ramirez told authorities that the night before Amelia died he was upset with the child’s mother so he went to the infant’s crib and punched her both in the stomach and the back of the head. Relatives told police that Ramirez was controlling and abusive toward the child’s mother, which was confirmed by the mother. Angel Ramirez was charged with second-degree murder.

Carrie Olson

Age 29

Hastings

April 5, 2014

Carrie Olson of Davenport, Iowa went missing in December 2013. She was last seen at a gas station on December 28th and her body was found in a field near Hastings, MN on April 5, 2014. Her ex-boyfriend, Tim McVay, 39, was seen driving her car after her disappearance and was charged with first-degree murder. At the time Minnesota’s 2014 domestic violence homicide report was written, Carrie’s death was ruled an unspecified homicide and the cause of death had not been released. McVay’s former girlfriend told authorities that he stalked her, was violent and that she feared for her safety around him.

Beverly Gongoll

Age 62

Waconia Township

April 8, 2014

Beverly Gongoll was found dead in her home on April 8, 2014. Her husband, Kenneth Gongoll, 62, was also found in the home with her. Both died of apparent gunshot wounds. Authorities believe that Kenneth Gongoll first killed his wife before turning the gun on himself in a murder-suicide. They had two adult children together and were married for several decades.

Michelle Ploetz

Age 20

St. Paul

April 18, 2014

Michelle Ploetz was shot in the head by her boyfriend, Timothy Hendricks, 19, while their 8-month old son was in a car seat beside her. Michelle Ploetz died two days later. Michelle’s father told authorities that Michelle met Hendricks for dinner so that he could see their child. Michelle’s father accompanied them out of concern for his daughter’s safety. Over dinner, Michelle Ploetz and her father told Hendricks that he needed to get into a treatment program. They also discussed meeting the following week so that Hendricks again could visit his son. After the dinner, Michelle’s father was driving the group home when Hendricks shot Michelle in the backseat. Hendricks also shot at Michelle’s father several times as he tried to intervene. 

At the time of the murder, Hendricks was on a conditional jail release for a January charge where he pointed a rifle at his 13-year-old nephew. A woman he had been staying with in the days prior to the homicide reported Hendricks had told her that he was going to kill Michelle. He had also threatened to hurt himself. Michelle’s father had tried three times to get Hendricks committed because he feared Hendricks might kill him or his family. Hendricks’ sister had tried “more than 40 times” to have him hospitalized for addiction and mental health issues. Each time he was sent home with medication and was never admitted. Hendricks was convicted of one count of second-degree murder in the death of Michelle Ploetz and one count of second-degree attempted murder of her father, 45-year-old John Ploetz. He was sentenced to 32 years in prison.

Doris Doust

Age 86

Worthington

May 2, 2014

Doris Doust’s body was found in her room at the Crossroads Care Center on May 2, 2014 after police were called to investigate gunshots. Her husband, George Doust, 87, was found sitting on an adjacent bed with a fatal self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. Doris Doust had arrived at the senior care facility only weeks before the incident.

Towanda Harris

Age 46

St. Paul

May 10, 2014

Towanda Harris was stabbed to death by her ex-boyfriend, William Chestnut, age 54, on May 9, 2014. According to the criminal complaint, Chesnut and Towanda dated in 2003. Chestnut, his current girlfriend, and their 5 year old son were visiting Harris and her husband. During an argument, Chestnut attacked and stabbed Towanda. Three of Towanda Harris’ nieces, all under the age of ten, and Chestnut’s son were present at the time of the homicide. William Chestnut was charged with second-degree murder with intent and second-degree murder without intent in Ramsey County District Court. He has a long criminal history that includes several domestic assault charges and violations of protective orders. 

Francesca Desandre

Age 24

Minneapolis

July 5, 2014

Marco Anthony Gresham, 24, shot and killed Francesca “Frankie” Desandre at a party she hosted to celebrate the 4th of July. Gresham had confronted a woman at the party, identified in the criminal complaint as "V.G.", about "her knowledge of Gresham's alleged involvement" in Prince Pope's murder. Prince Pope was murdered while trying to intervene in a fight that resulted from his brother, Rico Jackson, confronting their sister’s boyfriend regarding physical abuse of his sister.  V.G. denied being present or having any knowledge. Gresham displayed a handgun and pointed it at V.G., who attempted to push the gun away but Gresham pulled V.G. close to him and fired one bullet into her abdomen. V.G. fell to the ground and Francesca Desandre began to run toward the house. Several other shots were fired toward Francesca. Desandre was pronounced dead on the scene and V.G. was transported to the hospital where she survived. Gresham was charged with 2nd degree murder.

Kelly Lund

Age 32

Menahga

July 12, 2014

Family members found Kelly Marie Lund dead in a tent on her brother’s lawn the morning of July 12. She had returned to her hometown for the annual Midsummer Festival and was camping out with her boyfriend. The initial death certificate, filed after the Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s Office completed an autopsy, listed the cause of death as a “ligature wrapped around neck multiple times causing asphyxia.” The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) then stated that there was insufficient information for the medical examiner to determine the manner of death. The Wadena County Attorney’s Office concluded that the investigation comprised of the Menahga Police Department, Wadena County Sheriff’s Office and Minnesota BCA did not find evidence that would support criminal charges. Kelly leaves behind two young children.

British Morris-Rice

Age 22

West St Paul

July 20, 2014

British Morris-Rice was killed during an intervention in a domestic assault against her. DeMarcus L. Barnett, 30, pled guilty to one count of second-degree unintentional murder in British’s shooting death. He was sentenced to 17 years in prison. According to Barnett, at a party on the night of July 19, he and his friend, M.M., got into a dispute with British’s boyfriend over the man's abusive treatment of British Morris-Rice. Witnesses say British was assaulted by her boyfriend at the party. During the dispute British’s boyfriend swung at M.M. and in response, Barnett wrestled him to the ground. British got in her car and was leaving when Barnett shot her. In his statement, Barnett said he had fired a shot that he thought was aimed at the ground intending to scare off the boyfriend. When police arrived on the scene they found British Morris-Rice in the driver’s seat, slumped toward the passenger seat. British died nine hours later from a gunshot wound.

Angel Lowe

(Dorothy Redd-Lowe)

Age 24

West Saint Paul

August 10, 2014

On August 6, four days before Angel’s death, her ex-boyfriend, Marc Bakambia, 28, was arrested and charged with domestic abuse and interfering with a 911 call after he allegedly assaulted her and dragged her out of a car by her hair. Angel told her mother she “feared for her life” and that she was so afraid that she “pretended like she was dead.” On August 10th, Angel Lowe was strangled to death in her West Saint Paul home that she used to share with Bakambia. Text messages on Angel's phone show she had broken up with Bakambia the day before she was found dead. A Dakota County grand jury indicted Bakambia on one count of first-degree murder involving domestic abuse and three counts of second-degree murder. Residents of their apartment complex said that they had reported the couple for violent fights in the past. Police had been called to the address at least four times in the past year. Bakambia's past convictions in Minnesota include domestic assault, disorderly conduct and two DWIs.

Kelly Phillips

Age 48

Arden Hills

August 11, 2014

On August 11th, Kelly Phillips was shot and killed in an Arden Hills gas station parking lot by his former life partner and current business co-owner Lyle "Ty" Marvin Hoffman, 44. In the past, Kelly had shared with an acquaintance that Hoffman was violent.  Kelly was shot at least three times by Hoffman. Hoffman evaded police for a month but was eventually caught and charged with the murder. Ty Hoffman was sentenced to 25 and half years in prison for the murder of Kelly Phillips.

Richard Alan Baity

Age 41

Ogema

August 15, 2014

Richard Baity, of Ogema, was found dead on the road near his home in Becker County on August 15, 2014. According to media reports, Richard died of multiple traumatic injuries. His girlfriend, Jessica Kilde, 33, pleaded guilty to second degree intentional murder and was sentenced to 30 years in prison for Richard’s death. Injuries to Richards’s body and evidence at the scene suggest he'd been dragged, and a broken strap found nearby appeared consistent with marks on his neck. Kilde was seen driving toward the scene and a strap tied to her vehicle matched the strap found near Richard’s body.

Laura Simonson

Age 32

Rochester

November 2, 2013

Body Found on  June 5, 2014

Laura Simonson, of Farmington, MN, was last seen entering a Rochester hotel with 52 year old Steven Zelich, a former police officer from Wisconsin. Laura was reported missing November 22, 2013. On June 5, 2014, police in Wisconsin discovered two bodies in suitcases along a highway and identified one as Laura Simonson. Rochester police say Zelich and Laura were known acquaintances that had a previous relationship through the Internet. In 2001, a woman had reported to the police that Zelich had attempted to rape her. Zelich’s case was never referred to prosecutors for possible criminal charges. Steven Zelich was sentenced to 25 years in prson for the murder of Laura; 35 years for the Wisconsin murder of 29-year-old Jenny Gamez, of Cottage Grove, Oregon; and 10 years for hiding a corpse. Laura Simonson was the mother of 7 children.

Angel L. Linderman

Age 28

Lake City

September 9, 2014

Angel Linderman, of Lake City, was shot to death by her boyfriend, Tanner Rix, 22, on September 9, 2014. Rix called 911 around noon from Baldwin, Wisconsin to report a shooting injury in the car he was driving. Police found Angel’s body in the car, covered with a tarp. Autopsy results confirmed that Angel had been shot hours prior to the 911 call. Rix has been charged with felony counts of 1st degree intentional homicide, hiding a corpse, and possession of a firearm by a felon. In addition to being held in connection with the homicide, Rix also had two felony warrants for drug crimes and unauthorized possession of a firearm.

Amber Elena Lechuga

Age 22

Springfield

September 25, 2014

Miguel Angel Vasquez, 26, shot and killed Amber Elena Lechuga, the mother of his children.  Amber’s body was found in the front passenger floor of a burning van in Sleepy Eye and her head was found nearby in the Cottonwood River. Vasquez and Amber lived together in an apartment with their two young children. Police searched the apartment on September 26 and found evidence indicating Amber could have been killed there. Prosecutors said during Vasquez's initial court appearance that they were concerned the children may have been present in the apartment during the brutal murder. Miguel Vasquez was sentenced to life in prison without chance of parole for killing Amber.

Lorraine Swor

Age 85

Minneapolis

October 6, 2014

Lorraine Swor was shot and killed by her husband, Robert Swor, 85, on October 6, 2014. Robert Swor then turned the gun on himself and also died from gunshot wounds. The two were married for 65 years. They leave behind two adult children.

Miranda Schunk

Age 28

St. Paul

December 29, 2014

Less than two weeks after Miranda Schunk obtained a protection order against her 49 year-old, ex-boyfriend, Kevin Scott Evans, he returned to her apartment and repeatedly stabbed her, inflicting wounds to her head, chest and abdomen. Miranda was taken to Regions Hospital where she died on Monday, December 29th. Ten days prior to the stabbing, Miranda Schunk filed an order for protection which prohibited Evans from being in proximity to Miranda. In her petition, Miranda stated, “I am really afraid that [Evans] will follow through with his threats and do serious harm to me, at times I am afraid to leave my home.” The order detailed the abuse which included daily threats of violence, stalking, physical violence including being slapped and punched in the face, destruction of property including throwing medication and pictures of her children into the river, as well as spray painting derogatory remarks on her apartment building, and previously attempting to enter Miranda’s apartment armed with a knife. The day before the stabbing, Miranda reported to police that Evans had violated the protective order and was threatening to slit her throat and put a bullet in her head. A friend of Miranda’s, who lived in the building, said Evans had been calling her all day trying to contact Miranda. On the day of her death, Miranda planned to leave the state and move down south to her family. Miranda’s best friend had driven up from Texas to help her relocate; she arrived in Minnesota a few hours after her death. The friend reported that Evans had found out about the plan, gotten ahold of Miranda’s address book, and had started calling the friend. He said he knew her address and told her he'd stab her, her children and Miranda if she helped Miranda leave. Evans’ past criminal history includes 2nd degree murder, domestic assault, and aggravated robbery. Kevin Evans pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 36 years in prison for killing Miranda.

Susan Marie James

Age 59

Plymouth 

December 29, 2014

On December 29, 2014, a man and a woman were found dead in a Plymouth home when officers performed a welfare check at the house after one of the two people failed to show up for work. The woman has been identified as Susan Marie James. The examiner found that Susan died of a gunshot wound to the head. The man found dead in the house has been identified as Susan’s husband, David Gilbert James, and at the time of the 2014 domestic violence homicide report, the case was under investigation.

Komel Crowley

Age 28

Apple Valley

December 2014

On January 18, 2015, the bodies of Komel Crowley, her husband David T. Crowley and her 5-year-old daughter, Raniya, were discovered in the Apple Valley home. Initial reports are that Komel and Raniya were murdered and David Crowley died of a self-inflicted gunshot. It appears that the murders-suicide occurred sometime in December 2014.

Raniya Crowley 

Age 5 

Apple Valley 

December 2014

On January 18, 2015, the bodies of Komel Crowley, her husband David T.   Crowley and her 5-year-old daughter, Raniya, were discovered in the Apple Valley home. Initial reports are that Komel and Raniya were murdered and David Crowley died of a self-inflicted gunshot. It appears that the murders-suicide occurred sometime in December 2014.

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