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5 months after body discovered in boat launch fire, authorities reveal what they think happened

A Hastings man was charged this week in connection to the disturbing July discovery.
Timothy Otto.

Timothy Otto.

Five months after firefighters discovered a body in the remnants of a fire at a Hastings boat landing, authorities are detailing what they believe happened to the victim.

Timothy Otto, of Hastings, did not call for help when the 30-year-old victim died of an overdose in his room, according to criminal charges filed Tuesday in Dakota County District Court. Instead, prosecutors allege Otto brought the man's body to the Jaycee Park boat launch, put the body in a garbage can and set it on fire. 

The remains of Kyle David Hamilton were found at the boat landing early the morning of July 10. Firefighters had been called to a blaze at the site, the flames engulfing a wooden enclosure. Firefighters, after extinguishing the blaze, noticed Hamilton's body next to the enclosure.

Authorities say he had a fatal amount of methamphetamine and fentanyl in his system.

Otto, 33, has been charged with second-degree arson, as well as interfering with a dead body. He was arrested Thursday morning, according to jail records, and made his first appearance Friday morning. The court granted him a public defender. 

An omnibus hearing is set for Jan. 6 at 9 a.m.

What the charges say

According to the charges filed against Otto:

Investigators traced Hamilton's whereabouts in the days leading up to the fire, and learned he'd been staying at a residence known as the "Doghouse," a place law enforcement knows people will go to sell and used drugs.

Investigators spoke with two witnesses. Both said they saw Hamilton at Otto's apartment in the "Doghouse" prior to the Jaycee Park fire. One witness said Hamilton was slumped over on the floor on July 6, snoring — but then abruptly stopped snoring. The next day, another witness came by Otto's apartment and saw Hamilton was dead and did not have a pulse.

Otto put a blanket over Hamilton before going to work.

The evening of July 9, the witness who saw Hamilton stop snoring said she was walking to a park along the river when Otto stopped her and asked if she "wanted to see fireworks," directing her to the boat launch. The witness saw Otto bike toward Jaycee Park, while the witness chose to go to the "Doghouse."

While there, Otto invited her to his bedroom. She noticed Hamilton's body was gone. Otto admitted to her he brought it to the boat launch via the bike path, put it in a garbage can and set it on fire.

At the scene of the blaze, authorities found a large piece of melted plastic beneath Hamilton's body and determined it had been a wheeled garbage can. They also found gasoline in the soil beneath it.

Investigators spoke to Otto, who said Hamilton had come to his apartment, used drugs and overdosed, and that he didn't know what to do. An investigator asked if he waited for people to complain before he removed the body, to which Otto said "his memory ended right there."

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