Updated: July 19, 2021 09:48 PM
Created: July 19, 2021 01:55 PM
The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is investigating the death of a man whose remains were found in Lake Superior in Grand Portage.
The Midwest Medical Examiner's Office says 34-year-old Richard Anthony Balsimo died of homicidal violence.
Authorities say Balsimo was last seen in St. Paul on June 20. Dive teams located his remains in Lake Superior on July 15 and 16.
The Cook County Attorney's Office says they have charged Robert Thomas West of South Range, Wis., with Aiding an Offender and Interference with a Dead Body, for his role in the incident.
He allegedly confessed what he did to law enforcement on July 16, while being held in the Douglas County Jail on unrelated charges.
According to the criminal complaint against West, the Wisconsin Douglas County Sheriff's Office contacted the BCA to tell them Balsimo was likely murdered and dismembered on June 20. An adult witness then agreed to speak with the BCA.
That witness told BCA agents that they had seen bullet holes in the passenger seat of an acquaintance's car. West, who also knew this acquaintance, allegedly asked the witness if they knew anyone with a boat because he wanted to go fishing. The witness identified someone in Grand Portage.
They drove in separate vehicles up the shore. When the witness asked West whether he was being paranoid, West allegedy said, "Ya with a dead body in the back." According to court documents, West told the Grand Portage fisherman that he wanted to dump some of his grandmother's valuables in the lake.
The witness overheard a conversation on June 23 about three buckets, that Balsimo's body was "chopped up" in a camper, that another suspect had shot Balsimo, and that "it was in self-defense."
A BCA agent met with the Grand Portage fisherman on July 15. The fisherman identified West in a photo lineup and said he saw him drop two 5-gallon buckets and one large tote into Lake Superior.
With the help of the St. Louis County Sheriff's Office, the BCA recovered one tote and one bucket from Lake Superior. The Anoka County Medical Examiner's Office found human remains inside. A casino players card with Balsimo's name on it was found in the pants pocket.
Officials say additional charges are anticipated. West faces up to 20 years in prison.
The BCA says the investigation is ongoing, but they do not believe there is any threat to the public.
The Agency is being assisted by the Cook County Attorney's Office, the Cook County Sheriff's Office, the Douglas County Sheriff's Office, the Minnesota Attorney General's Office, the St. Louis County Sheriff's Office, the St. Paul Police Department, and the Superior Police Department.
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