Skip to main content

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. 

Sign up: Subscribe to our BREAKING NEWS newsletters

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. 

Next Up

Screen Shot 2022-05-23 at 9.58.36 PM

Eric Perkins, Miss Minnesota, Paul Fletcher create new podcast

The podcast is released Tuesdays at 8 a.m. and is available wherever you find podcasts.

Mock aircraft cabin.

MSP Airport debuts mock aircraft to help ease flying anxiety

The pre-flight experiences cover the TSA screening procedure, exploring a terminal, boarding a plane and meeting a pilot, and preparing for takeoff.

Scripps National Spelling Bee

These Minnesota kids will be competing at National Spelling Bee

The upcoming event in Maryland will be the first fully in-person Scripps National Spelling Bee since 2019.

covid, kids

New data shows how omicron has impacted kids in Minnesota

The new data shows breakthrough data during the omicron period, which began Dec. 19, 2021.

Javen Juan Moreno

Albert Lea shooting suspect arrested after 3 weeks on the run

He is accused of shooting a man in the upper thigh on May 1.


Motorcyclist, 59, killed after losing control on right curve

The Harley Davidson rider was thrown from his bike.

state capitol Minnesota

Minnesota's 2022 legislative session: What's happening?

A list of items agreed upon and yet to reach any bipartisan agreement in the latest legislative session.

water drain

Water main break floods 40-45 homes in St. Louis Park

The city says the rupture happened on Minnetonka Boulevard.

Eli Hart

Charges: 6-year-old Eli Hart shot up to 9 times by his mother

The 28-year-old is facing 2nd-degree murder charges.

dave lee wcco radio

Former WCCO Radio host Dave Lee moves into podcasts

His new podcast, called 'My First Concert,' launched last week.

Tow Boat

Tow boat collides with Mississippi River lock and dam in Alma, WI

The crash remains under investigation by the United States Coast Guard.

unsplash school bus

Police: Man in minivan approached kids, claimed he was former principal

Investigators say children were approached by a man in a white minivan who falsely claimed he'd been a local school principal.


MNBCA - Balsimo 1

Second arrest made in murder, dismemberment of St. Paul man

The 31-year-old woman was booked into St. Louis County Jail.

jeremy jones richardson - pine county

Charges: Man broke into friend's home, killed him with his cane

Pieces of the victim's cane were found on his back, charges say.

Ethan Broad

Man gets 30 years in prison for murdering, dismembering teen roommate

Dystenee Avery's remains were found in a landfill three weeks after she was killed.

Facebook - St. Paul Cub Foods attack screengrab - Aug 12 2021

Charges: Now-former peacekeeper assaulted man outside St. Paul grocery store

The man, who was working with a community group tasked with de-escalating issues, has been fired.

Thomas Yoeun

Charges: St. Paul man shot victim who had changed mind about buying weed

The suspect allegedly attempted to rob them, but ended up shooting the victim twice, charges say.