Duluth woman helped hide freezer body in Shorewood, charges say [Pioneer Press, St. Paul, Minn.]
(Saint Paul Pioneer Press (MN) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Sept. 20--A woman helped clean up blood after her friend bludgeoned a man to death -- then helped stuff his lifeless body in a freezer, according to prosecutors who charged her with being an accomplice.
Talisha Nakia Hunt, 30, helped friend Jetaun Helen Wheeler buy the freezer from Sears the day after Wheeler killed the man, her boyfriend, Hennepin County prosecutors charged.
Hunt was taken into custody Thursday as police searched her Duluth apartment. The criminal charge accuses her of being an accomplice after the fact, a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
She knew a crime had been committed, destroyed or concealed evidence, spent some of the dead man's money and obstructed the investigation, the charge claims.
Police found the body of Eddie Sole, 58, of Chicago, on Aug. 21, when they searched Wheeler's Shorewood home in a missing-persons case. Sole's relatives in Chicago had become concerned when they hadn't heard from him or seen him.
Police found a brand-new freezer hidden behind two mattresses in the woman's garage. When they opened the freezer, they found Sole's body. He'd been beaten about the head, neck and arms, then wrapped in plastic and bound with duct tape.
Wheeler, 29, is awaiting trial on a charge of second-degree murder. She is accused of beating Sole to death with a curtain rod. The charge alleges she acted intentionally, but without premeditation.
She also had help, the new charge against Hunt claims. Police began investigating her after they found an Electronic Benefit Transfer card with her name on it when they searched the home.
Investigators also found a pair of sandals that appeared to have blood on them. Wheeler's children allegedly told police the sandals were Hunt's, and that she had been staying in the house at around the time Sole is believed to have been killed; he was last seen alive July 31.
The freezer had been purchased Aug. 5 at a Sears store in Minnetonka; surveillance video from the store showed Wheeler and Hunt buying the appliance together, Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Sarah Stennes wrote in the criminal complaint.
It was the second time police had been to Wheeler's home. After Sole's relatives had contacted police and expressed concerns about his whereabouts, officers went to the Shorewood home Aug. 13 and asked Wheeler if she knew where the man was.
She allegedly told them she had dropped him off at a bus terminal Aug. 3 and that was the last she'd seen of him.
Sole's friends and relatives told police that they'd last heard from him July 31, and that he was planning to be back in Chicago Aug. 1. He had told a friend he was having domestic trouble with Wheeler, that she had attacked him "and that she was crazy," the friend later told police.
Before police found Sole's body, his wallet turned up in an alley in North Minneapolis, minus his debit card, his Illinois-issued EBT card and his Social Security card.
Investigators found that on Aug. 10, someone using Sole's debit card withdrew $82 from an automated teller machine in Harvey, a city 4 miles south of Chicago.
When police investigated Hunt, they found that she used to live in Harvey -- two blocks from the ATM. Bus records showed she had taken the bus from Minneapolis to Chicago on Aug. 7, then returned to Duluth on Sept. 3.
Police got a warrant and searched Hunt's apartment in Duluth on Thursday. They found Sole's debit card in the woman's wallet, Stennes wrote.
The prosecutor wrote that Hunt agreed to speak with investigators, but "originally denied knowledge or involvement in the victim's death."
She later said that she had seen Wheeler and Sole fighting, and that her friend hit the man "multiple times with a 'stick' until he stopped moving," Stennes wrote.
"Wheeler asked ... Hunt to help with the cleanup, and defendant Hunt assisted Wheeler with cleaning blood off the carpet," the complaint alleges. Hunt then admitted that "on the following day, she accompanied Wheeler to purchase the freezer at Sears" and she conceded she helped Wheeler stuff Sole's body in the freezer, the complaint claims.
Hunt is in the Hennepin County jail with bail set at $1 million.
She has no prior criminal history in Minnesota, state records show. In civil court, the Housing and Redevelopment Authority of Duluth went to court to evict her in August 2011; the case was settled 17 days after it was filed, the court docket says .
Her profile on the website MyLife.com said that she attended Lincoln's ChalleNGe Academy, part of the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program, in Rantoul, Ill., and graduated in 1999.
The profile said that after high school, she attended Harry S Truman College, part of the City Colleges of Chicago system, from 2007 to 2008. It said she worked in Duluth at a data security company from 2009 to 2010.
David Hanners can be reached at 612-338-6516.
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