Isanti man sentenced to serve nearly 24 years in prison for 2021 murder

A man has been sentenced after being convicted of murdering a 32-year-old woman who was found buried on his property in 2021.

Earlier this year, 39-year-old Richard Melvin Peterson II entered an Alford plea to one count of second-degree murder in the death of Amanda Jo Vangrinsven. As part of the plea agreement, the charge of interfering with a dead body would be dismissed, and Peterson would be sentenced to around 24 years in prison. The Alford plea also means that Peterson is maintaining his innocence but believes he’d be found guilty based on the evidence the state has.

Thursday morning, a judge sentenced Peterson to serve 285 months – just shy of 24 years – at the St. Cloud prison. Peterson was also given 604 days of credit for time he has already served behind bars. In addition, he must pay nearly $5,000 in restitution.

An investigation revealed that Vangrinsven and Peterson had drinks at Rum River Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2735 in Isanti on Aug. 5 of 2021. Both worked at the location; Vangrinsven worked as a server and Peterson served as the vice commander of the post. They then went to a bar in Bethel, which was the last time Vangrinsven was seen alive.

Multiple employees at the bars also noted that Vangrinsven was “noticeably intoxicated” that night. Employees at the VFW also said Peterson would “stare at female employees” at the bar when he was drinking, adding he also had “mood swings.”

The following day, Vangrinsven never showed up for her morning shift at the VFW, which was said to be completely out of character for her.

Court documents say Peterson initially told police he dropped Vangrinsven off at a park after they went to the bar in Bethel, but surveillance cameras near the park did not see a car stop in that area in the timeframe he mentioned. His telling of that night to officers wasn’t consistent, according to the search warrant.

Vangrinsven was found shot in the head and buried on Peterson’s property after a search warrant was executed four days later.

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