Isanti woman found shot, buried on property of man she was last seen with; suspect arrested | KSTP.com

Isanti woman found shot, buried on property of man she was last seen with; suspect arrested

Tommy Wiita
Updated: August 17, 2021 07:02 PM
Created: August 17, 2021 03:53 PM

A search warrant obtained by 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS shows that an Isanti woman who was found last week, Amanda Jo Vangrinsven, was shot and buried on property that belongs to the man she was last seen with before she went missing. 

Richard Melvin Peterson, 37, is currently being held at the Isanti County Adult Detention Center on suspicion of murder. He has not been formally charged.

On Aug. 5, Vangrinsven left Rum River Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2735 in Isanti, where she worked, to go to a bar in Bethel with a person identified in the search warrant as Peterson. She was spotted leaving the bar with the man later that night and was not seen again. 

She was declared missing, and after days of searching, Vangrinsven's body was found at a property on the 300 block of 261st Avenue Northwest in Athens Township. The body was found after a search warrant was executed at the property, which belonged to Peterson.

Vangrinsven and Peterson were seen together at the VFW, then the bar in Bethel, then driving away from that bar in an opposite direction from Vangrinsven's house. Multiple employees had attempted to drive the woman home, but Peterson insisted he would do it. According to witness statements, many shared the sentiment that they had a "bad feeling" about the man driving Vangrinsven home, noting they were both noticeably intimate at the bars. It is stated in the search warrant that Peterson is married.

Multiple employees at the bars also noted that Vangrinsven was "noticeably intoxicated" that night. Employees at the VFW also said the man would "stare at female employees" at the bar when he was drinking, adding he also had "mood swings."

The following day, Vangrinsven never showed up for her morning shift at the VFW, which was said to be completely out of character for her. 

The man initially told police he dropped Vangrinsven off at a park after they went to the bar in Bethel, but surveillance cameras near the park did not see a car stop in that area in the timeframe the man mentioned. His telling of that night to officers wasn't consistent, according to the search warrant. 

An investigation revealed that Vangrinsven's cell phone was last used in the area of the man's property. A search warrant was conducted on the property on Aug. 9. The man told police to "check the pond for a body" twice, which authorities noted was the first time that the man had spoken in that way. Police learned shortly thereafter that the man was taken to Cambridge Medical Center, where he was admitted into a mental health ward in St. Cloud. 

After hours of searching, authorities found Vangrinsven's body in a freshly excavated hole on the property. On Aug. 11, a preliminary investigation revealed that a bullet was lodged in her skull. 

The case remains under an active investigation at this time and further information will be provided as it is learned. 

The family of Amanda Vangrinsven issued the following statement on Tuesday:

There is no way to know the correct way to navigate such unexpected and horrific events.  The grief is overwhelming and the unanswered questions and influx of information even more so.   Our gratitude cannot be expressed enough and our silence to media and social media is not due to a lack of appreciation but rather a drive to be sure that we in no way interfere with what we hope will bring answers and justice. We don't have answers.  And we will never have the answer we hoped to have; that she was found alive. We have chosen at this time, to be cautious, to not risk any potential impeding of the facts and information that we hope will bring justice and accountability. We want answers. We want justice. We want the person who did this to Amanda be held to the highest level of accountability. While we grieve, while we give strength to each other and get strength from the community, we will continue to remain cautious and quietly, but passionately, continue to advocate for answers, accountability and Justice. Please keep Amanda in your prayers and hearts.


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