ST. PETER, Minn. – Two days before Michaela Widmer's body was found in a cemetery near her Minnesota mobile home, she sent her fiance text messages saying went for a ride with her neighbor who told her he had won the lottery and would give her half of his winnings, the fiance said Monday.
Widmer, 22, was discovered stabbed to death at a Kasota cemetery on Sunday, a day after her neighbor, 53-year-old Ricardo Taber, was found dead in his mobile home in St. Peter in what authorities said Monday was a murder-suicide.
The pair disappeared Friday with Widmer's 4-year-old daughter, who was found abandoned but unharmed at a nearby lake later that night, authorities said.
Police were still trying to determine the chain of events, said Janell Rasmussen, a spokeswoman for the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. Authorities said Taber committed suicide but were awaiting toxicology results to determine his cause of death.
Widmer's fiance, Darnell Mears told The Associated Press that Taber had lured Widmer into his car on Friday by telling her he had won the lottery and would share his winnings. Mears, 31, said he got a text message from Widmer saying: "Dude, Rick just wrote me a check for 18 grand."
But it wasn't long before he got another text message that indicated she had been fooled, he said.
"That was the last word I ever heard from her," Mears said during an interview in the kitchen of the home he shared with Widmer.
Mears, a self-employed handyman, said he and Widmer had been living together for four years and planned to get married in a month. He said his fiance had an uneasy feeling about Taber but didn't think she was dangerous.
"She said that he grossed her out, gives her the creeps, but she didn't seem weirded out by it. I told her don't go over there unless you have to," he said.
He said Widmer's daughter had been placed in foster care after she was found at a Lake Emily boat landing near St. Peter, about 70 miles southwest of Minneapolis.
"She was bug bitten head to toe. She won't look anyone in the eye," Mears said.