Isanti businessman indicted for 1st-degree murder in 1993 cold case

Jerry Westrom was arrested in February 2019 for the killing of Jeanie Childs.
Author:
Updated:
Original:
Jerry Westrom

A suspect from a 1993 homicide case is scheduled to make his first court appearance Tuesday afternoon on a 1st-degree murder indictment, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman has announced.

Jerry Westrom, 54, of Isanti, was indicted by a Hennepin County Grand Jury June 25, for first-degree premeditated murder in the stabbing death of 35-year-old Jeanie Childs on June 13, 1993.

A warrant was issued for his arrest immediately following the indictment, as Westrom had posted $500,000 bail on February 15, 2019, the day after he was originally charged with 2nd-degree murder. He turned himself in Monday.

According to the criminal complaint, on June 13, 1993, property management for an apartment building on the 3100 block of Pillsbury Avenue South were alerted by a tenant that water was coming into her apartment.

The source of the water leak was determined to be an adjacent apartment where Childs often stayed. Upon entry into the apartment, water was found to be overflowing from an unoccupied, running shower. Water and blood were present throughout the bathroom and connected bedroom, and Childs’ body was found on the bedroom floor.

Jeanie Ann Childs

Jeanie Ann Childs

Authorities were called and an investigation began. They found the apartment belonged to someone Childs had been dating who was out of the area at the time of the incident, and that she used the apartment for prostitution services. 

The Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office determined she died from multiple sharp force injuries. Items from the apartment were collected and eventually tested for the presence of DNA. An unknown DNA profile was found to be on several of the items tested.

In 2018, police enlisted the services of a genealogist who supplied Westrom’s name as an individual who shared familial traits to the unknown profile that was developed at the crime scene.

In 2019, police started to follow Westrom and, at a hockey game, watched him use a napkin to wipe his mouth and then toss it in the trash. Police retrieved the napkin and were able to obtain a DNA sample from it, which linked to DNA profiles at the crime scene.

Sign up for our BREAKING NEWS newsletters

In addition, Westrom’s footprints were matched to several bloody footprints found at the scene.

They also learned that Westrom, who had grown up in Elbow Lake in west-central Minnesota, had lived in the Twin Cities metro from April 9, 1991 to Dec. 31, 1993.

He was charged with second-degree murder in February 2019. 

According to the probable cause statement, Mr. Westrom told authorities he didn't know Ms. Childs, had not been in the apartment, and had not had sex with any women in Minneapolis in 1993. His lawyer, Steven Meshbesher, said at the time the arrest was premature and that Westrom would plead not guilty, MPR News reported

“We all hope Jeanne’s family can finally find peace as a result of this tenacious effort by officers and agents,” Jill Sanborn, the special agent in charge of the Minneapolis division of the F.B.I., said at the time in a statement.

A farmer and businessman

Westrom's blog said that he studied agricultural business and economics at the University of Minnesota, graduating in 1989, before later going on to own an organic corn farm in Isanti.

The Isanti County News reports that he also previously owned several businesses in the Cambridge area, including the local Sears, the former Westrom's Corner gas station, and the former Sinclair gas station.

The Star Tribune described him as a "hockey dad" to his two, now grown children, and was involved in local youth athletics.

Next Up

ambulance

Ten fatal overdoses in past 6 weeks reported in region of northern MN

Law enforcement agencies have issued a plea to the general public.

u.s. district court minnesota - federal court minneapolis

Bracing for security threats, federal courthouses closing in Minnesota

Security is also being ramped up at the state capitol.

N95 mask

3M sues Florida company that sold 10K counterfeit N95 masks to HCMC

The Maplewood company has obtained a temporary injunction against the firm.

vaccine, covid

Walz, Whitmer, and Evers call on Trump Admin. to buy more vaccines

It comes after The Washington Post reported that the country's COVID vaccine reserves have been exhausted.

Karl-Anthony Towns

Wolves-Grizzlies game off, KAT tests postive for COVID

The Timberwolves star was among several players that are dealing with COVID-related issues.

minnesota state fair

Planning for the 2021 Minnesota State Fair is underway

The fair suffered huge financial losses due to COVID-19, but organizers are moving forward with planning "different scenarios" for this summer.

Screen Shot 2021-01-15 at 2.16.44 PM

Heather Brown named as new WCCO 'This Morning' anchor

She will be joining Jason DeRusha on the CBS affiliate's Morning Show.

DPS John Harrington

DPS Commissioner: No credible threats to state Capitol, but ready if something arises

Local and state law enforcement officials have a plan in case a threat arises.

snow, slush (submitted photo, ok to use)

Here are snow totals from Thursday-Friday winter storm

It's a slushy mess in the metro, but snow did pile up in southern counties.

tim walz

Walz fury after report that government's COVID vaccine reserve is nonexistent

The Washington Post reported Friday that the Trump Administration has shipped out all the vaccines it has already, with none in reserve.

Related

Jeanne Ann Childs

Isanti businessman, father charged in 1993 cold case murder

He's accused of killing 35-year-old Jeanne Ann Childs in Minneapolis.

Arrest made in 1993 Minneapolis cold case murder

Jeanne Ann Childs was killed at her apartment almost 26 years ago.

John Capers, Annette Seymour

Charges filed in cold case of 1992 St. Paul murder

Formal charges were filed Wednesday in Ramsey County court.

Susan Spiller

Break in Susan Spiller murder alleges her killer was 14

Police arrested the suspect, who is now 18, on Monday.

Screen Shot 2020-01-02 at 7.54.07 AM

Grand jury indicts 2 men with 1st-degree murder of Minneapolis realtor

It's been suggested that the alleged shooters had been paid to kill Baugh and her boyfriend.

Nancy Dougherty

Arrest made in connection to 1986 Chisholm homicide cold case

The suspect, now 52, is accused of killing a woman 34 years ago.

Minnesota's Lois Riess indicted for 1st degree murder in Florida

She's accused of killing a woman she befriended, before stealing her identity.

michael carbo

Chisholm man charged in 1986 cold case after DNA breakthrough

The suspect lived near the victim and went to school with her children.