37-year-old convicted of killing, dismembering St. Paul man found in Lake Superior in 2021

37-year-old Jacob Colt Johnson was convicted Wednesday of two counts of second-degree murder in connection with the killing and dismemberment of a St. Paul man found in Lake Superior.

Johnson was initially charged with one count of second-degree murder on Aug. 16, 2021, in connection with killing Richard Balsimo on June 20, 2021. A second count of second-degree murder was added in February of this year, according to court documents.

Johnson is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 11.

According to Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, whose office prosecuted the case upon the request of the Cook County Attorney’s Office, Johnson is also charged with mutilating a body in Douglas County, Wisconsin — where he allegedly dismembered Balsimo’s body.

According to a criminal complaint, Balsimo was riding in a car with Johnson in the Twin Cities when he brandished a knife and started threatening the other people in the vehicle. Johnson then allegedly shot Balsimo several times; the two other female occupants then fled.

Balsimo was later reported missing.

Johnson then took Balsimo’s body up to a property in Douglas County, Wisconsin, where he allegedly dismembered the body and placed it in buckets. The complaint states West admitted to police that he had purchased the buckets and tools used to dismember the victim’s remains, as well as the cement used to fill the buckets.

Robert West and Tommi Hintz allegedly helped dump Balsimo’s body into Lake Superior.

Law enforcement recovered Richard Balsimo’s body from Lake Superior near Grand Portage, Minnesota, in several separate containers. With the help of a witness who led the suspects onto the lake in his boat, they found three 5-gallon buckets and a tote bag filled with concrete during a two-day operation from July 15-16, 2021.

West was convicted of being an accessory after the fact to murder and interference with a dead body on Feb. 8. He will be sentenced Aug. 29.

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Hintz pleaded guilty to aiding an offender after the fact on June 28, 2022, and will be sentenced Aug. 15.

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“I’m very proud of the attorneys in the Attorney General’s Office, the Cook County Attorney’s Office, investigators, and law enforcement who brought this case to a successful conviction. I’m also proud of our partnerships with county attorneys who are on the front lines of delivering justice to victims and communities. We stand at the ready to assist them and look forward to doing more with the new resources for criminal prosecution and appeals that the Legislature and Governor Walz have granted my office,” Attorney General Ellison said.