St. Paul man charged with murder following fatal Itasca County shooting

A Twin Cities man is charged with murder for allegedly shooting a man whose body was found in a Deer River home last week.

Authorities say Nigel Randel Blackburn, 33, of St. Paul is charged with second-degree murder after a man was found dead inside an Itasca County home. He faces a maximum sentence of 40 years if convicted.

Deputies say they got a call about a dead body inside a Deer River home in the early morning hours of Tuesday, June 13.

The caller reported that a woman had just told her there was a shooting at her home several days earlier.

Court documents show officers made contact with that woman, who was “distressed” and said she “wanted to cooperate.” She then said there was still a body inside her home and gave officers consent to search it.

Officers then went to the home and saw a blood trail from the doorway to the living room where they found a man’s body.

The criminal complaint states there were bullet holes in his head and body and brass shell casings nearby.

Investigators then spoke to the victim’s mother, who said her son, the woman and Blackburn were all at her house five days earlier. The mother said she hadn’t seen or heard from her son since then.

After being taken to the sheriff’s office, court documents say the woman agreed to provide a statement after being advised of her Miranda rights.

The woman told officers that Blackburn shot and killed her friend at her home in Itasca County and that she then drove Blackburn to a townhome in Monticello after the shooting, the criminal complaint states.

The woman then told investigators that she, the victim and Blackburn were all acquainted and that both men had a romantic interest in her. She added that Blackburn had previously been in a relationship with her and she considered the victim a friend.

She then said that earlier in the week, Blackburn had sold a motorcycle and received a handgun in the transaction. That same evening on June 8, all three of them had dinner at the victim’s mother’s house and then returned to the woman’s home.

The woman said she and the victim then fell asleep on the couch.

The criminal complaint then states the two men “had a disagreement” when Blackburn told the victim to move from the couch. The argument “then moved downstairs” and the woman said she pushed herself between the two, heard a loud bang and saw the victim put his hands to his head.

The woman said she then realized that the victim had been shot. The victim then tried to walk upstairs, but Blackburn followed and continued to shoot. The document goes on to say the woman told officers she heard about four more gunshots and that the victim died in her living room in the early morning hours of June 9.

A medical examiner later determined that the victim was shot five or six times.

Court documents say the woman and Blackburn stayed at the home for several more hours and that Blackburn discussed covering up the murder. He then used socks to wipe footprints from the scene and left in the woman’s vehicle, throwing the victim’s phone from the vehicle and ditching the socks “in a different area.”

The woman said she does not know what Blackburn did with the gun.

Investigators say they spoke to neighbors who reported seeing the woman with a man who matched Blackburn’s description. Another neighbor provided home security footage that showed the woman’s vehicle in front of her home at 9:48 a.m. and it being gone by 9:54 a.m., the complaint states.

Court documents say that late in the evening of June 9, the Wright County Sheriff’s Office responded to a domestic disturbance call in Monticello, where Blackburn was reportedly having a mental health episode. The woman was also present at the apartment at the time.

A few hours later, around 3 a.m. on June 10, deputies responded to the home again after getting reports that Blackburn was holding a large kitchen knife and making suicidal statements. Blackburn was gone by the time deputies arrived but returned around 4 a.m. “wearing only sweatpants and sweating profusely” according to the complaint. He was then taken to the hospital and placed on a mental health hold.

Blackburn’s wife reported at the time that he is bipolar and schizophrenic, adding she was afraid he might hurt someone.

Court records show that Blackburn was previously convicted of fleeing police in a motor vehicle, drug sale and drug possession, domestic assault and simple robbery.

His next court appearance is set for the afternoon of July 12.