Witnesses: Suspect in slayings of 4 met victim at bar

A man stands in front of a podium.
Sheriff Kevin Bygd speaks during a press conference addressing the discovery of four Twin Cities residents found shot to death in an abandoned SUV in rural Dunn County, Wis.
Matt Sepic | MPR News

Updated 8:08 p.m.

One of two men suspected in the shooting deaths of four people found in an abandoned SUV in rural Dunn County, Wis., was spotted meeting with one of the victims the night before at a Minnesota bar, authorities said Thursday.

Two suspects have been identified and one, Darren Lee McWright, 56, from St. Paul, has been arrested by St. Paul police and charged with four counts of hiding a corpse.

A complaint filed Thursday against McWright said witnesses told police they saw the other suspect, age 38, late Saturday evening at the White Squirrel Bar in St. Paul with one of the victims, Nitosha Lee Flug-Presley, 30, of Stillwater.

Authorities are still searching for the other suspect, who is believed to be in the Twin Cities and should be considered armed and dangerous, the Dunn County Sheriff’s Office said Thursday.

While the sheriff’s office identified the other suspect, MPR News typically does not name suspects until they are charged.

The complaint said Flug-Presley’s aunt stated that her niece had a “thing” with the suspect and he would fly in from Arizona to see her. Public records show that he had been living recently in Scottsdale, Ariz.

The other three victims were Flug-Presley’s longtime friend, Jasmine Christine Sturm, 30, of St. Paul; Sturm’s brother, Matthew Isiah Pettus, 26, of St. Paul; and Sturm’s boyfriend, Loyace Foreman III, 35, of St. Paul. The Ramsey County Medical Examiner said they all died from gunshot wounds.

Authorities were able to connect the suspects and victims through surveillance videos and witnesses.

Investigators said street camera footage outside the White Squirrel showed a dark SUV at about 2:08 a.m. Sunday. The passenger side is open, and the footage shows Sturm run into the vehicle. Another witness said she saw Flug-Presley, Sturm and Pettus get into a black SUV in the early morning hours, according to the complaint.

All four victims were shot once in the head, according to the complaint. Flug-Presley was found in the front passenger seat of the 2008 Mercedes Benz GL, and the other three victims were in the backseat.

Surveillance video at the Bridgestop convenience store near Sheridan Town Hall in Wheeler, Wis., showed the Mercedes pulling up to a gas pump just after noon on Sunday. A minute later, a black Nissan Rogue is seen pulling up to another pump. Police traced the Nissan Rogue to the unnamed suspect, who reportedly uses the vehicle when he’s in town.

A relative confirmed McWright through a still photo that he was one of the suspects at the Bridgestop.

The vehicle and bodies were found by a farmer in Sheridan Township, a little more than an hour’s drive from St. Paul, about 50 yards into a cornfield alongside a rural road around 2:30 p.m. Sunday.

Sheriff Kevin Bygd told reporters on Tuesday that investigators believed there was no local connection to the shootings, that the bodies and SUV were randomly left in Dunn County and that the shooter or shooters left the scene in another vehicle.

Asked about a motive for the killings, Bygd said on Tuesday it was still a mystery.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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