Woman charged with stabbing a man to death and lighting his home on fire

A woman is facing murder and arson charges for the death of a man whose body was found with multiple stab wounds near a camper that was engulfed in flames on Monday.

Crystal Marie Wilson, a 42-year-old woman from Deer River, was arrested by police after she was spotted coming out of the woods west of where the burning camper and the body was found, according to a criminal complaint filed in Itasca County. During an interview with police after she was reportedly read her Miranda Rights, she admitted to using methamphetamine beforehand and stabbing the victim multiple time before lighting his camper on fire.

First responders say they were initially called to the camper fire in Ball Club on Monday morning after receiving reports that a person was inside. A Deer River police officer arrived and followed the black smoke to the camper that was engulfed in flames.

The victim’s body was found lying west of the camper with severe burns on the arms and multiple puncture wounds.

A woman named in the criminal complaint as J.H. explained that the victim was her nephew and that he had been living in the camper for the past two or three years.

Another person identified in the complaint as T.W. said he was riding his bike when he saw the camper on fire. He then ran up to J.H.’s house and told her he was going to drag the victim out.

J.H. said she had last seen the victim around 9:30 p.m. the previous night when he said he was going to bed in the camper. She had let her dog out around 6:30 a.m. Monday and “did not see anything out of the ordinary” according to the complaint. T.W. arrived a short time later, told J.H. to call 911 and pulled the victim about 10 feet from the camper.

At about 3 a.m. Tuesday, a man identified as K.M. in the complaint told law enforcement that he believed Wilson was involved in the incident. K.M. reportedly told police he had kicked Wilson out of his home for acting strange and fighting with his sister. He explained that Wilson returned to his home on Monday covered in blood and asked to take a shower. When K.M. and Wilson watched the smoke coming from the camper, Wilson reportedly said “He will not be able to hurt anybody again.” Investigators then recovered bloody clothes, Wilson’s ID, a pair of scissor and a blood-stained notebook bearing the victim’s name.

Later at about 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, law enforcement detained Wilson after receiving a report that she came out of a wooded west of the crime scene. After reportedly experiencing a medical situation and being cleared from the hospital, Wilson agreed to speak with investigators.

Wilson explained that she had attended the Mii Gwitch Mahnomen Days pow wow in Ball Club on Sunday after using methamphetamine and alcohol that morning. She then went to the victim’s camper afterward seeking more methamphetamine and alcohol. Wilson told police she didn’t know the exact time but recalled it was dark and that both she and the victim were alone.

After possibly using more meth, Wilson said she thought the victim was going to attack her with a butcher knife. She then began to stab the victim multiple times with pair of scissors while also punching and kicking him. When investigators asked how many times the victim was stabbed, Wilson said “I just kept going.” Wilson said both she and the victim were yelling for help during the attack. She then showed law enforcement how she used her forearm against his throat while he was down on the floor and she was on top of him.

Both of them either passed out or fell asleep and Wilson awoke next to the victim. She said he was dead and the body was cold to the touch.

Wilson then lit curtains and a blanket that was on top of the bed on fire. She said at some point she thought she was “burning a witch.” She then went to K.M’s home, where she left the bloody clothes and the notebook with the victim’s name on it.

Investigators say no butcher knife was found after a search of the camper and the surrounding area.

Officers also noted bruises on Wilson’s body, but she said she could not recall if the injuries were sustained before or after going to the victim’s camper.

Wilson has been charged with second-degree murder and first-degree arson. She is currently in custody at the Itasca County Jail with bail set at $1,000,000 without conditions and $500,00 with conditions.

Her next court appearance is currently set for Aug. 3, 2022.

Anyone with information on the case is asked to call the Itasca County Sheriff’s Office at 218-326-3477.