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Third person charged in St. Paul man's killing, dismembering

Richard Balsimo was reported missing on June 20. His remains were later found in Lake Superior.
Jacob Colt Johnson

Jacob Colt Johnson

A third person has been arrested and charged in the killing of a St. Paul man whose remains were dismembered and dumped in Lake Superior. 

Jacob Colt Johnson, 35, of Superior, Wisconsin, is charged with second-degree intentional murder in connection to the death of Richard Balsimo, 34, of St. Paul. 

Johnson is currently in jail in Douglas County, Wisconsin, on unrelated charges.

Balsimo was reported missing on June 20. His body was found, dismembered and placed in 5-gallon buckets in Lake Superior near Grand Portage on July 15 and 16

Prior to Johnson being charged, two of his alleged accomplices were charged with helping Johnson get rid of Balsimo's body. 

  • Tommi Hintz, 30, of Duluth, was arrested on Aug. 11 and charged with accomplice after the fact to felony murder and interference with a dead body-conceal a body.
  • Robert West, 40, of Duluth/South Range, Wisconsin, was charged July 16 with aiding an offender and interference with a dead body.

What happened

Balsimo was reported missing on June 20 and drive teams located his remains on July 15 and 16 about 146 miles northeast of Duluth.

A medical examiner ruled Balsimo died of "homicidal violence," and a criminal complaint suggests he was shot in the torso before his body was dismembered and thrown into the lake.

According to the criminal complaint, Balsimo had ridden with Johnson from Duluth to the Twin Cities on June 19. While they were in the car on June 19 or the early hours of June 20, Johnson told West he and Balsimo were arguing and Balsimo threatened the others in the car with a knife, so Johnson shot him "numerous times." Two women in the car took off running. 

Johnson, who was driving a different car, was arrested on June 24 on unrelated charges, the complaint says. His car was discovered "burned and unidentifiable" in Douglas County, Wisconsin, on June 26. 

West, while in custody on unrelated charges told investigators on July 15, that he met with Johnson and helped come up with a plan to dispose of Balsimo's body, adding he helped Johnson dismember Balsimo in an RV in Douglas County and put the remains in buckets with cement, charges state. Evidence of this was discovered on July 16 on the property with the RV. 

West contacted Hintz about needing a boat to get rid of "items that could never be found," the complaint states. And he and Hintz traveled to Grand Portage on June 22 to meet with a boat owner. On the way, West told Hintz he had a body in the back of his truck. 

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The boat operator told investigators he met with West who asked to boat him on Lake Superior, where West dropped two 5-gallon buckets and "one large tote," which he claimed to be the body of a dog, into the lake, charges said. West had said he was also disposing of personal belongings.

The boat owner helped officials locate where the buckets were dumped, with the BCA recovering the tote and one bucket. Inside the tote was a human torso with legs, arms and head removed, charges state. In the pocket of a pair of pants was a casino players card belonging to Balsimo.

There was a bullet wound in the torso, the complaint says. 

Parts of the gun, which West said he dismantled and discarded in Lake Superior, were later recovered where West said he'd gotten rid of it, the complaint says. 

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