Bail Set For Mendota Heights Murder Suspect

August 01, 2017 07:38 PM

Bail has been set for the man charged with a homicide in Mendota Heights Saturday.

The Dakota County Sheriff's Department said Lucifer Vincent Nguyen, 44, was arrested at around 11:30 p.m. Monday in the north metro.

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He made his first court appearance Tuesday morning in Hastings. Bail was set at $1.5 million ($1 million with conditions). His next scheduled court appearance is 10 a.m. on Aug. 14. 

The sheriff's department said Nguyen's arrest happened during a traffic stop at Highway 65 and 117th Avenue Northeast in Blaine.

He was wanted in connection to the murder of Beverly Cory, the 48-year-old woman shot and killed in Mendota Heights Saturday morning.

"He was a desperate man taking desperate measures to escape," said Dakota County Sheriff Tim Leslie.  "We don't know what happened in that suite where the victim was killed and that's what we're trying to piece together."

The Hennepin County Medical Examiner's Office on Tuesday officially listed her cause of death as a homicide. The release stated Cory died as a result of a gunshot wound to the head.

"Our hearts go out to Beverly Cory's spouse, her family, her friends, and all of the other victims involved in this frightening experience with guns pointed at them but Beverly Cory lost her life and we're deeply saddened by that," said Jim Backstrom, prosecutor for Dakota County.

The Sheriff's Office said Ngyuen will be held at the Dakota County Jail while the investigation is completed.  

Earlier Monday, the Dakota County Attorney's Office charged Nguyen in the crime spree that led to Saturday's fatal shooting.

He is charged with one count of second-degree intentional murder, two counts of first-degree aggravated robbery, one count of first-degree burglary and one count of kidnapping.  However, prosecutors haven't yet had time to review all of the evidence in this case and say further charges could still come.

"We don't know all the details," said Backstrom. "We don't know how this initial crime occurred or why it occurred at the location that it did."

An autopsy concluded Cory, a resident of Maplewood died of a single gunshot wound to the head, according to the criminal complaint filed Monday in Dakota County Court.

Law enforcement officials confirm a vehicle belonging to the 48-year-old Cory was located late Sunday at the Washington County Fairgrounds in Lake Elmo.

Authorities don't believe there is a connection between Cory and Nguyen.

RELATED: Mendota Heights Police ID Shooting Victim; Suspect Remains at Large

The department first received reports Saturday morning of the armed robbery. Police discovered Nguyen had fled the immediate area in a vehicle before crashing into a swamp and taking off on foot.

The criminal complaint reveals new details about the series of crimes that led to Cory's shooting Saturday morning. Included in the complaint is reference to Cory's autopsy, in which it was determined she died from a single gunshot wound to the head.

The homeowner reporting the initial home invasion about 9 a.m. told police she had been in her home with her 2-year-old grandchild when an adult male came to the front door and asked if he had the Miller residence. After being told no, the man, whom authorities believe was Nguyen, got back into his car. The homeowner noted the three numbers on the license plate as 922.

Shortly after the vehicle had driven away, the complaint states, the same man was back and entered the owner's bedroom, where she was with her grandchild. The man was holding a checkbook and said he had found it in the garden. He then pulled a handgun from behind his back and demanded the woman give him cash.

She complied by turning over the cash she had in the home. The man took her wallet before driving away, the complaint says.

The homeowner's daughter, arriving about the same time, noted the man was driving a white Toyota. 

Two officers responding to the home invasion call then saw the suspect vehicle and attempted to stop it. The Toyota pulled over and stopped briefly before fleeing, eventually crashing into a pond. 

Officers arriving at the vehicle in the pond found no suspect. A search of the vehicle rendered items that tied the car to Nguyen, the release says. Officers also found the wallet from the home invasion. 

At 9:07 a.m., police were dispatched to the White Pine senior care facility after someone reported a man armed with a gun had forced his way into the facility. A female employee told police she initially told the man he wasn't allowed in the building, but that he pulled a handgun from behind his back, forced her into the laundry room, took her work keys and told her she could not leave.

The complaint then states that as police evacuated residents from the facility, someone had reported that suspected blood was seeping underneath the door of a suite of an office building across the street from the senior facility.

The complaint says "tactical officers" found the woman, later identified as Cory, dead inside the suite. An autopsy determined Cory died from a single gunshot wound to the head. 

While investigating the scene, officers learned Cory's vehicle was missing from the parking lot. Her black Toyota Corolla was found Sunday evening at the Washington County Fairgrounds. A witness living across the street from the fairgrounds told police a man matching Nguyen's description approached him  Saturday about 11 a.m. and asked him for a ride to a nearby casino. 

Investigators also determined Nguyen bought a cell phone from an Oak Park Heights Walmart – about 3 miles from the fairgrounds - at 1:30 p.m. Saturday.

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Rebecca Omastiak, Frank Rajkowski and Michael Oakes

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