Charges: Fort Ripley man hit wife with SUV, let her die on roadside

A Fort Ripley man is now charged with killing his wife after they left a party last month in Crow Wing County.

Prosecutors have charged 47-year-old Tony James McClelland with second-degree murder, first-degree manslaughter and two counts of criminal vehicular homicide for the death of his wife, 49-year-old Angela Marie McClelland.

Her body was found along a frontage road on the west side of Highway 371 in Fort Ripley Township, around 15 miles southwest of Brainerd, on the morning of June 25.

Charging documents filed Wednesday morning state that her body had “significant trauma” consistent with being hit by a vehicle.

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While officers were still identifying her, court documents state that McClelland’s daughter called authorities to report her missing. Officers then learned that she and her husband, Tony McClelland, had been at a birthday party at an area home the night before.

Officers went to the home that hosted the party and talked with several people who confirmed the McClellands had been at the party and left together between 1:30 a.m. and 2 a.m. on June 25. They added that they’d both been drinking alcoholic beverages but Angela looked intoxicated and Tony didn’t so Tony was driving when they left.

Investigators then went to Tony McClelland’s home and gave the same timeline as others at the party, according to a criminal complaint. However, he added that Angela had “thrown a hissy fit” and they got into an argument so he dropped her off along Matte Road and left her there while he went home and went to bed. He claimed he didn’t realize she didn’t make it home until he woke up the next morning.

When investigators got a search warrant and searched the McClellands’ Ford Explorer, the complaint states that there was blood and tissue in several areas, as well as a single hair. Testing confirmed the DNA from those samples matched Angela’s.

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Additionally, location data showed McClelland traveled south on Legend Lane early that morning, stopped around 100 yards south of Killian Road and then backed up toward where Angela’s body was found and stopped, according to the charging documents. Then, the vehicle took off from the scene, reaching speeds over 100 mph before going to McClelland’s home.

When officers went back to McClelland’s home this week, he explained that Angela had gotten mad at him for looking at another woman and was grabbing at the steering wheel. However, he claimed he was “pretty drunk” and told law enforcement, “I don’t remember much after that.”

He was then taken into custody.

Court records show McClelland made his first court appearance Wednesday morning and had his bail set at $2 million without conditions or $1 million with conditions. His next appearance is scheduled for July 25.

Tony James McClelland (Crow Wing County Jail)