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Husband charged with second-degree murder in Heidi Firkus' 2010 death

The detailed criminal complaint describes the financial troubles the family faced, and how Nicholas Firkus' story about an intruder didn't add up.
Nicholas Firkus

Nicholas Firkus

Heidi Firkus' husband has been charged with second-degree murder in her 2010 death at their home in St. Paul.

Nicholas James Firkus, 38, of Mounds View, is charged with second-degree intentional murder in his wife's April 25, 2010 killing. 

Firkus, who was arrested Wednesday, is the first person to be arrested and the first to be charged in Heidi's death. He made his first court appearance on Thursday, during which his bail was set at $1 million with conditions, $3 million without conditions, a news release says

Firkus' attorney Joe Friedberg told the judge Thursday the case is "circumstantial" and investigators "don't have anything new" against Firkus, the Pioneer Press reports. However, the prosecution said they believe Firkus "planned and murdered his wife" and that he's a public safety threat. 

Related [May 19]: Husband arrested in Heidi Firkus' 2010 death in St. Paul

More than 11 years — 4,043 days — after Heidi was killed, charges were brought against Firkus. The criminal complaint against him is highly detailed, explaining Firkus' story that didn't tally with the forensic evidence, and includes details about a foreclosure on their home and a massive amount of debt the couple faced, unbeknownst to Heidi. 

At a news conference Thursday, Ramsey County Attorney John Choi and others involved in the case said the added involvement of the FBI and a fresh set of eyes from the St. Paul Police Department helped them better understand what happened, allowing them to bring charges now. He added that it's an active investigation so he couldn't go into specifics or elaborate more. 

Firkus' next court hearing is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. on July 1 and will be held via Zoom due to the COVID-19 pandemic, county documents show.

The charges

According to the criminal complaint, Heidi, 25, was fatally shot and killed in her home around 6:30 a.m. on Sunday, April 25, 2010. 

Police received two 911 calls from Heidi's cellphone that morning, one at 6:31 a.m. from Heidi, who reported someone broke into their home. Then dispatchers heard a gunshot and Heidi stopped speaking, but there was no significant background noise that would signal there was an intruder, charges state. 

The next 911 call came at 6:33 a.m. and was Firkus calling on Heidi's phone, saying someone broke into their home and Heidi had been shot, the complaint says. 

When police arrived, Heidi was unresponsive in the kitchen and Firkus was beside her on the floor still talking to the 911 dispatcher. Firkus was "highly emotional" and he had a gunshot wound to his upper left leg, charges state. 

Firkus told police at the scene that one or two people broke into his house, so he grabbed his shotgun and he and Heidi were trying to run out the back door to escape. While they were running to the detached garage, he turned and the suspect grabbed the shotgun from him and shot him and Heidi, charges say. 

Firkus was taken to the hospital and was released after about three hours. Heidi was pronounced dead at the scene after being shot in the back. 

There were no signs of an intruder in the home and nothing was disturbed, the complaint says. Investigators didn't find any unidentified DNA evidence on the gun, the door or in the house. 

Firkus was interviewed again by police while at the hospital. He told police he got up to get a glass of water from the bathroom when he heard someone fiddling at the front door, the complaint says. He woke up Heidi and told her to call the police and he grabbed his shotgun from the closet. They called the police from inside the closet and then decided to run to the garage. When they got to the bottom of the stairs, the door opened, the intruder grabbed him, and then Heidi was shot, he claimed. 

He was interviewed again at the police station the next day, during which he admitted they were behind on their bills, had a mountain of debt, and their house was foreclosed on and they had to be out of their house the day after the shooting, charges say. He said they hadn't told family or friends about it. 

Investigators don't think Heidi knew about their financial troubles nor the foreclosure and she had talked about wanting to sell the house despite the fact they were no longer owners of the home, the complaint says. 

Statement from family

Heidi's family released a statement Wednesday, which was read at a news conference about the charges on Thursday: 

“We're extremely grateful for all those who have worked so hard and long to get the case to this point. And also for everyone who has prayed and stood beside us all these years.

“We are hopeful that these charges will finally bring out the truth and result in justice for Heidi. Even though we know we can't have her back, we believe Heidi would want us to have the truth.

“God is honored by truth. Heidi's life and memory is further honored by truth.”

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