Published January 13, 2015
A Woodbury teenager who underwent a heart transplant around five years ago has been accused of hatching a gruesome plot to murder a stranger at random.
Authorities said Andrew Busskohl, 19, carefully planned how he would kill Jim Fratto, also of Woodbury, and took the first step by smashing the man's patio window around 1:30 a.m. on Aug. 6. He allegedly planned to return a day or two later, enter through the broken window and finish the job.
"He was going to come in, cut out my heart, cut off my eyelids and slash my throat," Fratto said Wednesday.
The criminal complaint says a friend of Busskohl's called police the same day and tipped them off that Busskohl had come up with a plan to find a man who lived by himself and kill him. He allegedly told his friend he'd wear a swim cap, latex gloves and shoe coverings. His friend told police Busskohl told him he would either stab the victim in the chest or slash his throat, and then either cut off the victim's eyelids or cut out his heart.
Investigators searched Busskohl's car and found a backpack containing a swim cap, latex gloves, shoe-coverings, a map to Fratto's house and a small pry bar. They also found tweezers, two pairs of scissors and a scalpel in the backpack.
"Very bizarre case," Washington County Attorney Doug Johnson said.
Busskohl told police he wasn't sure if he would have gone through with it, the complaint said.
He was undergoing a court-ordered psychiatric evaluation Wednesday.
"Well, you don't get people who pick a name out of a telephone book and decide they're going to kill them. That's just not rational thought process," Johnson said.
The community rallied around Busskohl back when he needed his transplant. His classmates at Bailey Elementary School raised $6,000 for heart research in his honor. He graduated this year from Woodbury High School, and the parents of the 11-year-old heart donor were there.
Prosecutors charged Busskohl with felony attempted burglary and harassment, both counts aggravated by possession of a dangerous weapon. Johnson said that while prosecutors have a mountain of evidence against Busskohl, they couldn't charge him with attempted murder because state law requires that Busskohl had to have taken a substantial step to kill Fratto.
"If we thought we could convict this guy of attempted first-degree murder, we'd charge him," Johnson said. "Planning is not enough. Don't get me wrong, I'm not happy about this."