ST. PETER — Michaela Widmer died of sharp force injury, the Ramsey County Medical Examiner said Monday afternoon.
The body of Widmer, 22, was found in the Kasota cemetery at 4 a.m. Sunday, and authorities this afternoon released the cause of death.
Bureau of Criminal Apprehension officials say they are waiting for toxicology results regarding cause of death of 53-year-old bachelor Rick Taber, who was the last person seen with Widmer before she was found dead.
"Investigators believe Widmer's death to be a homicide, and Taber's death to be a suicide," a BCA press release states.
BCA officials also confirmed the names of the deceased as Michaela Marie Widmer (date of birth July 16, 1987) and Ricardo Duane Taber (date of birth Jan. 29, 1956).
Taber and Widmer were neighbors and for a few years friends. Those close to the story say Taber had become romantically interested in Widmer, and, on Friday, told her he would give her $18,000 because he won the lottery.
Taber, Widmer and Widmer's 4-year-old girl were going to a Mankato bank where Taber was saying he would make the $18,000 transaction for her.
Neighbors' statements in the case point to things going sour between Taber and Widmer.
Widmer's little girl had several mosquito bites when she was found at the boat ramp, but she was not injured.
Darnell Mears, who was planning to marry Widmer at the end of the summer, reiterated how important he feels it is to get this story out to the public. Women and girls need to be ever careful that someone who seems harmless and nice might be trying to take advantage of them or hurt them.
The chronology of events as to just when Taber took Widmer to the Kasota cemetery, when she was stabbed to death, when the little girl was dropped off at the Lake Emily boat ramp and when Taber committed suicide at his Summit Park home is not yet known.
Mears said he strongly suspected that Widmer was either hurt or dead when he was notified that little Kassandra had been found and Widmer wasn't with her.
A press conference is scheduled for Tuesday.
Taber was questioned in theatre burglary
Update 11 a.m. Monday: ST. PETER — According to St. Peter Police, the 53-year old man found dead in his Summit Community home Saturday afternoon was a person of interest in a burglary which took place at the CineMagic St. Peter Five movie theatre early last week.
Ricky Taber, who according to police was an employee at the theatre at the time of this incident, was one of the people questioned about the burglary, St. Peter Police Detective Matt Grochow confirmed. Grochow added investigators targeted him as a person of interest based upon the lack of clarification in the information he provided in that interview.
Police records show the manager of the movie theatre contacted St. Peter Police on July 20 about a second degree burglary there. When officers arrived on the scene they learned someone had gained access to the theatre sometime either in the late evening hours of July 19 or early morning of July 20 using a crow bar to pry open an exit door on the Walnut Street side of the building.
A subsequent investigation determined the suspect then broke into the manager’s office and gained access to a safe. Police state more than $1,500 in cash was taken from the safe.
As part of their investigation, police interviewed the other employees of the St. Peter theatre and during that process Grochow stated Taber gave a “very poor interview.”
The investigation into the burglary is ongoing, according to Grochow, including trying to determine any possible connections that may exist between the burglary and Taber's death.
Taber was found dead in his Summit Park residence around 3 p.m. on Saturday after police went to his home as part of a missing persons investigation. A 22-year old woman, Michaela Widmer, who was a neighbor of Taber’s, was found dead in a Kasota cemetery early Sunday morning.
Investigators from the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension do believe the two deaths are related.