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Charges: Tips from family members, foul smell in garden lead investigators to body buried in woman's garden

A woman is accused of fatally shooting her ex-husband and burying him in the yard.
Karina Her.

Karina Her.

A St. Paul woman is accused of shooting her former husband in the head, burying his body in the back yard, then building a shed over the site.

Karina Her, 40, was charged with second-degree murder Monday in Ramsey County, according to a criminal complaint. The charges allege she shot her ex-husband, identified by police as Kou Yang, a month ago, then called 911 to report him missing July 22.

But clues from Her's family members as well as a neighbor's report of a foul smell coming from the St. Paul yard helped investigators uncover the truth, the complaint says. Their accounts led to the discovery of painted-over blood stains on a bedroom wall, and a cadaver dog brought to the yard indicated blood or decomposition around the shed, the charges state.

On Saturday, Yang's body was unearthed from beneath the shed, and the medical examiner determined he died after suffering two gunshots wounds to the back of his head.

Her was arrested Saturday, St. Paul police said. Her first court appearance is set for Tuesday at 9 a.m., according to court records.

According to the charges:

The evening Her reported Yang missing to police, a teenage family member called authorities to say she had not heard from Yang, and that she believed Her may have killed him and buried him in the garden.

When the teenager had gone to Her's and Yang's home on July 2, she noticed a hole in the yard, covered with a sheet or tarp, where plants had previously been, and a missing outdoor security camera. Her also became upset when the teen asked about Yang.

The teen also received a text from another juvenile family member, saying Her had taken her to Taylors Falls, brought a trash bag with a long object of some sort into the woods, then drove them both home. She described Her as being "suspicious."

In the days that followed, Her built a shed on the tarp-covered spot in the garden.

A neighbor also later told investigators they noticed a foul smell coming from Her's garden area, starting around July 5 and lasting about a week.

There were also questions about vehicles being moved or going missing, as well as rooms in Her's home being remodeled. These were explained away, in part, by the divorce proceedings Her and Yang were going through at the time.

Investigators, in late July, began finding additional evidence: Yang's work van and tubs of clothing at a storage facility in White Bear Lake. A cadaver dog, brought to Her's yard, that showed "interest in the shed handle and door." Blood splatter that had been painted over on a bedroom wall, as well as blood in the laundry room, on a window covering and inside a carpet machine.

On July 31, investigators excavated the area under the shed and found Yang's body wrapped in some sort of material.

In interviews with police before the discovery of Yang's remains, Her said she believed Yang left in the middle of the night in early July and may have gone to Oklahoma. The hole in the yard, she said, was to remove a tree stump during patio repair work.

Her blamed the bad smell noticed by a neighbor on droppings from pigeons in a nearby coop, and said the plastic bag she'd discarded in the woods was trash from her car. When informed of the cadaver dog's indications, she said the basement had been remodeled but that there may be a body in a plugged hole down there.

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