Wisconsin man, Minnesota woman sentenced for aiding in dismemberment, disposal of St. Paul man’s body in Lake Superior
A South Range, Wis. man and a Duluth woman learned their future in Cook County Court on Tuesday in connection with the dismembering and disposal of a body found in Lake Superior in August 2021.
Robert Thomas West, 43, was sentenced to serve 15 years in prison in St. Cloud for being an accomplice after the fact to the murder of 34-year-old Richard Anthony Balsimo. West will serve this sentence concurrently with an 18-month sentence for interference with a dead body. He has credit for 777 days already served.
Tommi Lynn Hintz, 33, was sentenced to serve 90 days in either Cook County Jail or a female offender program. She also received a stayed four-year sentence that she will serve if she violates the conditions of her four-year probation. She also received a two-day sentence in Cook Couty Jail, but had credit for two days already served.
A jury found West guilty on one count of accomplice after the act to felony murder and one count of interference with a dead body or scene of death in February 2023.
Hintz pleaded guilty to one count of accomplice after the act to felony murder in exchange for the dismissal of one count of interference with a dead body.
A third person charged in the case, Jacob Colt Johnson, has a sentencing hearing scheduled for Sept. 11. Johnson was found guilty after a jury trial earlier this summer of two counts of second-degree murder.
On July 13, 2021, an agent from the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) was contacted by officials at the Douglas County Wisconsin Sheriff’s Office who had learned that Balsimo, who had been missing from St. Paul since June 2021, had likely been murdered and dismembered on June 20.
Officials said his body was placed in five-gallon buckets in Lake Superior outside of Grand Portage, Minn.
A criminal complaint states that on July 13, 2021, Hintz agreed to speak with the BCA and told officials that on June 20, 2021, she had helped West and another suspect, named Jacob Johnson, get in contact with a man in Grand Portage who owned a boat because Johnson said he wanted to go fishing. Hintz also noted there were bullet holes in the passenger seat of Johnson’s car.
West and Hintz rode to Grand Portage together, the complaint stated. At one point, Hintz asked West whether he was paranoid, and West replied, “ya with a dead body in the back.”
On July 15, 2021, agents with the BCA met with a second witness, who told law enforcement he had boated West out on Lake Superior to dispose of “some personal belongings that had belonged to family of an acquaintance.”
The complaint stated that the witness told officials he had seen West drop two five-gallon buckets and a large tote, which West said carried the body of a dog, into the lake.
Later, agents from the BCA and law enforcement from the St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office recovered the tote and one five-gallon bucket from the floor of Lake Superior. The tote reportedly contained a male torso with the limbs and head removed. Agents say they discovered a bullet wound in the victim’s torso.