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Montrose man charged with murder

WRIGHT COUNTY, MN – A Montrose man is facing a felony second-degree murder charge in connection with the death of Justin Edwin Warnke, 34, of Buffalo.

Alejandro Vega

Alejandro Vega

According to a formal complaint, Alejandro Vega Jr., 37, is charged with intentionally murdering Warnke, without premeditation, and disposing of his body in rural Meeker County.

Warnke’s body was discovered on a dead-end road in Kingston Township shortly at 8:01 a.m. Dec. 29. Authorities believe he had been there since about 1:53 a.m. that morning, consistent with observations of a vehicle at the location by a nearby resident.

His body had sustained hemorrhages in his eyes and neck, and sustained blunt-force trauma to his head, scalp, and chest, consistent with him being beaten and strangled, according to the formal complaint.

The formal complaint lays out the following timeline utilizing surveillance video from Vega’s apartment and other businesses, witness interviews, and Vega’s statements to investigators:

• At about 4 a.m. Dec. 28, Vega reportedly picked up Warnke from a Monticello hotel where he had been staying.

• At 5:25 a.m. surveillance video reportedly showed Vega and Warnke entering Vega’s apartment in Montrose.

• Vega allegedly traveled from his apartment to the hotel in an attempt to retrieve Warnke’s property, which was documented by law enforcement at about 11:35 a.m.

• At 2:33 p.m., surveillance video reportedly captured Vega taking an appliance cart from his garage into his apartment.

• At 6:20 p.m., surveillance video reportedly captured Vega taking rope into his apartment. It is alleged that Vega later used that rope to tie Warnke to the appliance cart.

• At 1:13 a.m., surveillance video reportedly showed Vega wheeling what appeared to be Warnke’s dead body – tied to the cart and wrapped in a blanket, with his head wrapped in garbage bags – from his apartment.

• Four minutes later, Vega was allegedly observed driving his vehicle with what appeared to be Warnke’s body tied to an appliance cart and sticking out of the open trunk.

• Vega allegedly dumped Warnke’s body at the location where it was found at about 1:53 a.m. Dec. 29.

During a Jan. 1 interview with authorities, after being advised of his rights, Vega allegedly claimed that he left his apartment and returned to find Warnke unresponsive in a bedroom and attempted life-saving measures.

Vega reportedly said that he knew he could not have Warnke’s body in his apartment, but did not explain why he did not contact police after supposedly discovering the body.

Vega reportedly confirmed that he removed Warnke’s body from his apartment and dumped it where it was later found.

He also allegedly admitted removing portions of carpet that contained Warnke’s blood. That carpet, allegedly disposed of in a commercial dumpster, has not been located. Luminol testing indicated the presence of blood in other areas of carpet.

Vega also allegedly told investigators that he and Warnke had been using controlled substances together prior to Warnke’s death.

According to the criminal complaint, no other suspects are observed on surveillance video entering the apartment complex while Warnke was there.

During the time he was alone with Vega, Warnke sustained injuries that led to his death.

In conclusion, the complaint states, “The manner in which the defendant attempted to conceal the death of Justin Warnke and the lengths he took to dispose of the body illustrate overwhelming evidence of his intent and guilt.”

If convicted, Vega could face up to 40 years in prison.

He is due in Wright County District Court for his initial appearance and bail hearing Tuesday, Jan. 21.

Montrose man arrested in connection with death investigation

MEEKER COUNTY – A Montrose man has been arrested in connection with the death of a Buffalo man.

According to the Meeker County Sheriff’s Office, Alejandro Vega, 37, was arrested without incident during a traffic stop in Meeker County and booked into the Meeker County Jail Wednesday.

Vega has been identified in connection with the death of Justin Warnke, 34, of Buffalo, who was found dead in Kingston Township Sunday.

Detectives are actively working to determine the specific cause, manner, and circumstances surrounding Warnke’s death, including where he died.

The Meeker County Sheriff’s Office is coordinating with the Wright County Sheriff’s Office to take the lead on the investigation with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.

Anyone with information regarding the case is encouraged to call the Wright County Sheriff’s Office at 763-682-7600.

One injured when car strikes light pole

DELANO, MN – Minnesota State Patrol is investigating a crash that occurred at 6:13 p.m. Monday.

According to the State Patrol, a 2015 Chrysler 200 driven by David Heimark, 41, of Delano, was westbound on Highway 12 when it went through a red light at County Line Road and collided with a light pole on the right side of the road.

Heimark suffered noncritical injuries and was transported by ambulance to Ridgeview Medical Center in Waconia.

Alcohol was not a factor, Heimark was wearing a seat belt, and road conditions were dry at the time of the crash, according to the State Patrol.

County Road 17 to reopen Friday, Dec. 20

DELANO, MN – The flood wall project along Wright County Road 17 (River Street), just north of the US Highway 12 overpass, is wrapping up and the road will be open to traffic by the end of the day Friday, Dec. 20, according to a news release from the Wright County Highway Department.

County Road 17 has been closed and traffic detoured since Nov. 4 for a safety project to install sheet piling along a short segment of river shoreline, which will also help prevent flooding and erosion.

For more information about closures and news flashes from the highway department, visit www.co.wright.mn.us/

Delano Community Band event clarification

Friday, Dec. 6, an ad ran in the Delano Herald Journal regarding a chamber ensemble from the Delano Community Band performing at Riverwood Dec. 14. This ad was an error. An old internal planning calendar for band use only was erroneously sent to the paper for ad-planning purposes. That calendar should not have been disseminated. We sincerely apologize for the confusion and inconvenience this causes.

Convicted predatory offender moving to Montrose

MONTROSE, MN – According to Minnesota Statute 244.052, the Wright County Sheriff’s Office is releasing information regarding Rodger Jerome Larson, a Level 3 registrant subject to public notification.
Larson will be moving to the vicinity of Nelson Blvd. and Buffalo Ave. S. in the City of Montrose, on or after Dec. 11.
Larson was convicted of engaging in sexual contact with a known male teenager. Contact included sexual touching and penetration. Larson also photograhed the victim nude and showed him pornography
Larson has served the sentence imposed on him by the court and is transitioning within the community.
Larson is described as being 67, white, 5’9”, 168 pounds, with blue eyes, gray hair, and medium build.
This notification is meant to provide information and alleviate fear, not create it. The most important factor to consider is that people who commit sex crimes have always lived in local communities. The difference is that, since the 1990s, Minnesota statutes allow local law enforcement to inform citizens of certain offender’s general whereabouts.
A community notification meeting has been scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday Dec. 10, at the Montrose Community Center, 200 Center Ave. S. Representatives from the Minnesota Department of Corrections and the Wright County Sheriff’s Office will be available to provide useful information on public safety.
Anyone with questions about this information should contact Sgt. Eric Leander at the Wright County Sheriff’s Office by calling 763-682-7645.