Minn. man found guilty after dismembered victim’s remains found in Lake Superior
02/09/2023 1:35 pm PST
GRAND MARAIS, Minn. (TCD) -- A 42-year-old man was recently found guilty in the dismemberment of a St. Paul homicide victim whose remains were found in Lake Superior in 2021.
The Minnesota Attorney General’s Office announced the verdict against Robert West on Wednesday, Feb. 8. According to the initial press release from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, 34-year-old Richard Balsimo was last seen in St. Paul on June 20, 2021. The next month, his remains were reportedly discovered with the help of dive teams in Lake Superior.
The Department of Public Safety said Balsimo died of "homicidal violence."
On July 16, 2021, West was reportedly charged with aiding an offender and interference with a dead body.
About a month later, on Aug. 11, 2021, the Department of Public Safety announced that Tommi Hintz, 31, was also arrested in connection with the case for accomplice after the fact to felony murder and interference with dead body –– conceal a body.
A third suspect, Jacob Johnson, was reportedly arrested several days later, on Aug. 16, 2021, for second-degree murder — with intent, not premeditated.
According to the Duluth News Tribune, Johnson allegedly shot the victim in the Twin Cities in a moving car before his body was transported to Douglas County, where the victim was dismembered and disposed of. The victim, Johnson, and two women were reportedly inside the moving car and got into a dispute before the shooting.
The two women in the car allegedly said Balsimo pulled out a knife and threatened Johnson and the women before he was fatally shot.
According to the Duluth News Tribune, West told authorities Johnson brought Balsimo’s body to his home on June 20, 2021, and West suggested they dismember him.
Johnson and West reportedly covered the body and drove to Johnson’s daughter’s birthday party before Johnson finished the dismemberment job. West allegedly cemented the remains inside multiple 5-gallon buckets.
Hintz reportedly helped Johnson and West by arranging the boat used to transport the remains into the lake. The actual boat owner reportedly believed that they were disposing of a dead dog and a grandmother’s personal belongings.
Johnson’s trial will reportedly begin in July, and Hintz was convicted after pleading guilty last June. West faces other charges, including mutilating a corpse, harboring or aiding a felon, and possession of a firearm by a felon, the Duluth News Tribune reports.
In a statement, Cook County Attorney Molly Hicken said of West’s guilty verdict, "It is still difficult to call this a ‘win’ when the family of Ricky Balsimo has lost a son, a brother, and a father."
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