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Charges: Minneapolis man beat his girlfriend to death, fled to Illinois

The incident happened on Nov. 17, 2020. He was arrested this month in Illinois.

A Minneapolis man is accused of beating his girlfriend to death in their home on Nov. 17, 2020. 

Almanzo Cotton, 39, was arrested Wednesday morning in Illinois and charged with second-degree murder in connection to the death of 54-year-old Kim Theng at their home on the 3300 block of Sheridan Avenue North in Minneapolis, the Hennepin County Attorney's Office announced Thursday. He'll make his first court appearance when he returns from Illinois. 

According to the criminal complaint, Cotton called 911 at 9:21 a.m. on Nov. 17 to report a burglary at his home and then quickly hung up. A few minutes later, he called 911 again to say he got home to find Theng lying on the floor, and he left immediately. 

When police responded to the home, they found Theng lying partially clothed on the floor. She had "visible traumatic injuries" and was unresponsive, charges state. She was pronounced dead at the hospital. 

An autopsy revealed she died as a result of blunt force head trauma. It also showed she had numerous traumatic injuries to her head, arms, hands, torso and lower body. The medical examiner also noted that she had a healing fracture to the thyroid cartilage that was consistent with a previous neck injury. 

Investigators spoke with Cotton that day at which time he acknowledged Theng was his girlfriend and they lived together, the complaint says. He said they had a fight on Nov. 13, 2020, and she left their home. He claimed he didn't see her again until that morning when he found her on the floor. 

Police also spoke with Theng's employer, who said she was absent without explanation from work on Nov. 16, 2020, which was unlike her, charges note. 

One of Theng's family members told police she had contacted them on Nov. 13, 2020, and said she and Cotton had been in a fight that day, court documents state. She told her family member that she planned to stay at a motel. That family member noted that she witnessed years of physical abuse by Cotton on Theng, including him strangling her earlier in 2020. 

Investigators examined Theng's phone and Cotton's phone and their location data showed Cotton called her numerous times and sent instant messages to her, charges say. 

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At 6 p.m. on Nov. 15, 2020, both phones were at their home on Sheridan Avenue, the complaint reads. And at about 8 a.m. on Nov. 17, 2020, Cotton's phone went to and from Theodore Wirth Park and then made a 9:21 a.m. call to police. 

On Jan. 19, Cotton spoke with police by phone, changing his story to say he saw Theng when she got home on Nov. 15, 2020, at which time they talked for a little bit but then left, hanging out on the streets and doing drugs, the complaint says. He didn't return home, he said, until he found her on the floor on Nov. 17, 2020. 

He agreed to meet with investigators on Jan. 20, but didn't show up, charges say. Phone location data and tollway surveillance video showed him in the Chicago area between Jan. 20-21. 

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