BEMIDJI – The man at the center of a double homicide investigation allegedly planned to “quarter” at least one of the victims who officials later found in a fire pit at a residential property northwest of Bemidji.
Beltrami County Attorney David Hanson announced Wednesday, July 24, that he would charge three area people in connection to the deaths of 39-year-old Adam Thorpe of Maple Grove, Minn., and 41-year-old Jason McDonough of the Superior, Wis., area. The killing was likely connected to an alleged purchase of methamphetamine between the parties.
Darren Stebe, 45, of Bemidji is expected to be arraigned Friday on two counts of second-degree murder.
On Thursday, Daniel Linde, 54, of Cass Lake, was arraigned on two counts of aiding an offender, and his bond was set at $300,000 with conditions. He also has the option to pay bail of $500,000 without those conditions. The third defendant, Kristi Trisco, 31, of Bemidji, is expected to be arraigned within the next few days, also on two counts of aiding an offender.
According to the criminal complaint against Linde, the violence began when Stebe allegedly shot at least one of the victims on or around Jan. 28. The complaint said the medical examiner determined both Thorpe and McDonough “were victims of multiple gunshot wounds and/or homicidal violence.”
The complaint said officials pulled two bullets out of Thorpe’s chest. It did not indicate how many bullets were found in McDounough, if any. Investigators matched the bullets they retrieved from Thorpe’s chest and back with a .380 caliber Stebe acquired in late January.
The criminal complaint in Linde’s file, the only one of the three available so far, doesn’t give an exact description of the condition the bodies were found, but it indicates that they were burned and that at least one of them may have been found in pieces.
During the investigation, Stebe allowed investigators to examine his phone, which led them to find a text message between Stebe and his girlfriend, Trisco, that referenced the cutting of McDonough. The message partly said “...the garage is heating up and it’s going to get messy. I need to quarter him.” Stebe later told investigators that he cut off McDonough’s legs, the complaint said.
Linde told authorities he helped Stebe dig a pit and then move the bodies of Thorpe and McDonough into the pit. Stebe told investigators he burned their bodies “to conceal his crimes,” according to the complaint. Linde and his girlfriend, who was not named, were staying with Stebe and Trisco at the home where the victims were found in Eckles Township, just off state Highway 89.
The complaint also didn’t indicate how badly the victims were burned. However, early information from the Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office in February indicated officers found “what they believed to be the human remains of two people,” suggesting the bodies were badly damaged.
The complaint doesn’t say what actually prompted the killing of the two men, but it was likely connected to a sale of methamphetamines between the parties. Stebe told the authorities that he planned to buy methamphetamine from McDonough. Trisco also indicated Stebe planned to buy methamphetamine from the victims and that he planned to take it by force if he couldn’t afford the full amount.
Although they gave multiple versions of what happened, Stebe and Trisco both indicated at some point that they took as much as $5,000 from the victims.
The complaint then said that Stebe and Trisco made multiple purchases from Jan. 29 to Feb. 2, “using the money obtained in the homicides.” Stebe was also allegedly trying to raise funds to post bail for a family member who was in jail for a weapons offense.
The investigation actually started out as a missing persons case, as family members of Thorpe and McDonough contacted the Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office on Feb. 4. The bodies in the fire pit were Feb. 5.
Although he claimed he burned the bodies to hide the crime, Stebe seemed to be the one who tipped authorities off to his involvement in the murder in the first place. He allegedly called the authorities and told them he was driving a blue Honda Accord that “may be stolen” and that he didn’t want to get in trouble with his probation for driving a stolen vehicle. The license plate matched the vehicle the victims were reportedly driving.