One of the suspects connected to the discovery of four bodies in an abandoned SUV in a Wisconsin cornfield was arrested Thursday by the St. Paul Police Department. The second suspect remains at large, officials said.
Darren Lee McWright, 56, of St. Paul was arrested by the St. Paul Police Department and is being held in the Ramsey County Jail, according to a Dunn County Sheriff’s Office news release.
The sheriff’s office said they are still looking for the second suspect, Antoine Darnique Suggs, who is believed to be in the St. Paul-Minneapolis area and is considered armed and dangerous.
The arrest is the latest development in the mysterious case of four young adults from Minnesota who were found dead in an abandoned SUV in a Wisconsin cornfield on Sunday, police said, in a quadruple homicide case that has more questions than answers now and has left families shattered.
The victims, friends all from the Twin Cities area, were probably driven to the small town of Sheridan, Wis., where their bodies were found on Sunday, Dunn County Sheriff Kevin Bygd said at a Tuesday news conference. Autopsies performed Monday found that all died of gunshot wounds, police said.
“Obviously we’ve had homicides in the last several years,” Bygd told reporters, “but something of this magnitude ... this is a first.”
The victims were identified as Nitosha Lee Flug-Presley, 30, of Stillwater, Minn.; Matthew Isiah Pettus, 26, of St. Paul; Loyace Foreman III, 35, of St. Paul; and Jasmine Christine Sturm, 30, of St. Paul. Pettus and Sturm were half-siblings. Foreman and Sturm were in a relationship, while Flug-Presley was a close friend of Sturm.
Days later, police are still grappling with a case in which few details are known.
“This is a coldblooded tragedy,” Damone Presley, the father of Flug-Presley, told The Washington Post. “They killed my daughter.”
The sheriff’s office said there was “a high degree of certainty” that the suspect or suspects were no longer in the area, about 70 miles outside St. Paul. Police believe those involved had no connection to the Sheridan area “other than perhaps randomly driving out of the Twin Cities,” Bygd said.
“We do not know a motive yet,” he said, calling it “a mystery.” “Everybody’s a suspect at this point.”
Jessica Foreman, the mother of Loyace Foreman III, told The Post she last spoke to her son on Sept. 9 about the annual family trip to an apple orchard. Foreman said her only son was “a devoted father” to his two children, ages 7 and 13, as well as “a protective big brother and the best uncle ever.” He was also “an immensely talented artist” who loved Sturm.
“He was in love and looking forward to a future with Jasmine Sturm,” she said in a text message.
Presley described Flug-Presley as a doting mother of two children, ages 4 and 10.
She asked her father if he could watch one of her children while she went out Saturday night with her friends, he said.
Presley last spoke to Flug-Presley around 8:30 or 9 p.m. Saturday, when she called to ask if he was on his way. She left before he arrived, he said. He said she and her friends had planned to go to Shamrocks, a bar and restaurant in St. Paul where Sturm and Pettus worked, and at least one other bar that night.
But she never came home that night, he said. Text messages went unread and calls were going straight to voice mail. He grew worried when he couldn’t get in touch with his daughter the next day, and the family reached out to authorities. Relatives of the other victims also became concerned, noting it wasn’t like them not to return messages.
At 2:18 p.m. Sunday, the Dunn County Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call from a farmer in the area about “people in a vehicle that were not moving,” Bygd said. About 12 minutes later, authorities found a black SUV with Minnesota license plates that was parked in a field of tall cornstalks.
Presley said he was notified early Monday that four bodies had been found in an abandoned vehicle in Wisconsin.
“I was bewildered because she doesn’t know anybody in Wisconsin. The first thing I said was, ‘Wisconsin? Are you sure?’” he told The Post. “That’s when we started assuming that something tragic had happened to her.”
Bygd said the four people were probably killed less than 24 hours before the vehicle was found, but authorities remain uncertain of exactly when.
A second dark-colored SUV might have been traveling with the black SUV that was found with the victims inside, but that remains unclear, police said in a news release. The abandoned SUV was captured on surveillance video at a gas station around noon on Sunday, two hours before it was discovered in the cornfield, according to the Star Tribune.
The sheriff’s office is being assisted in the investigation by several state agencies, including the Wisconsin Division of Criminal Investigation, the Wisconsin State Patrol and the Wisconsin Department of Justice’s crime lab. Investigators are reviewing security footage and traffic cameras for information to help piece together the quadruple homicide case.
“Our hearts go out to the family and friends of these victims,” Bygd said. “I wish we could release more details of our investigation, but we have to balance the public’s desire to know the details with running the risk of harming our investigation.”
At Shamrocks, friends are mourning the loss of the group, including their co-workers, Sturm and Pettus. Mike Runyon, co-owner of the bar and restaurant, told The Post that the business was processing “the loss of these two people we dealt with on a daily basis.” He said Sturm, who was also an office assistant at a law firm, was an adoring mother.
“We are at a loss for words and are still in a state of shock over what’s happened,” he said. “It’s just a very somber moment. We’re grieving with the families.”
Presley is pleading for anyone who knows anything about the death of his daughter and her three friends in the “heinous, deliberate crime” to come forward.
“Sometimes innocent people pay a penalty, but the innocence of my daughter and the other three individuals who were killed should not be overlooked,” he said. “There was no need to take my daughter’s life - no reason at all.”