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Investigating loose dog, police find owner dead beneath car at 'best friend's' house

A 45-year-old Vadnais Heights man has been charged with murder.

Police called to the report of a loose dog in Vadnais Heights found its owner dead beneath a car parked outside the home of his "best friend," who has now been charged with murder.

Jeffrey Thomas, 45, was taken into custody at his home on Thornhill Lane after the body of his friend, a 45-year-old man who was visiting from Tennessee, was found pinched beneath a floor jack and the rear of a Honda Pilot on Saturday evening.

When officers saw the unmoving legs of the victim beneath the car, Thomas – who is in a wheelchair due to "chemotherapy, medications and other medical issues," per a criminal complaint – tried to block their path using his chair.

The victim was "obviously dead," per the complaint, and was wearing jeans but no shirt, only had one shoe on, and was partially covered by a piece of carpet that appears to have been taken out of the Pilot's rear hatch.

A pool of blood on the floor appeared to have been cleared up and had footprints and wheelchair marks in it.

An autopsy later revealed that the victim had died from a gunshot wound to the chest, with police finding evidence of gunshots inside Thomas' home, as well as signs of blood, and a .40 caliber handgun inside the Pilot.

Thomas, who appeared "sweaty" and "intoxicated," slurring his speech as he spoke to officers, said the victim was his "best friend" who had come to visit him from Tennessee to go fishing, and that the night before they had pizza for dinner and then "called it a night early."

After waking on Saturday, Thomas claims the victim had "gone to work on the Pilot a couple of hours earlier," and was going to change the oil, and says he came to find his friend "lying there on the floor" and his dog missing.

Thomas said he had no idea how there was blood in his house, and when further challenged on the fact his story made little sense, Thomas told officers to get a lawyer for him (he earlier agreed to be questioned without one) and said it would be impossible for him to move the victim's body.

Thomas has been charged with 2nd-degree murder without intent.

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