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MN couple fatally shot during burglary before home was set on fire, charges say


A man burglarized and fatally shot a southwestern Minnesota farm couple in their home, before returning the next day with two others to set the house on fire in order to destroy evidence, charges against them say.

The three men – Derek Hexum, 20, of Balaton; Theodore Como, 18, of Marshall; and Kyle Wesslink, 21, of Tyler – were charged Monday in connection with the crimes.

Hexum and Como face two counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of longtime Lyon County residents Jim Hively, 75, and his 71-year-old wife Cathy, who were fatally shot in their home near Balaton, near Marshall, on Wednesday.

The two are also charged with arson and armed burglary, while Wesslink faces charges of arson, burglary and receiving stolen property, records show.

According to the charges:

Wesslink told police he knew the other two men were planning to commit burglary when he gave them a ride on the night of the crimes.

Como and Hexum then went to the Hively farm. Como told police when they arrived, Hexum went inside the house carrying a stolen shotgun, while he waited outside. Como said he then heard four or five gunshots and someone scream.

Como admitted to police that he and Hexum stole a pickup truck, a shotgun and a digital camera from the Hivelys' farm.

The two men decided to return to the farm the next day to destroy evidence, and Wesslink drove with them.

Hexum had told Wesslink he killed the people who lived in the home, and was going back there to light the house on fire.

Wesslink waited in the car, and shortly after they arrived he saw a "flash" by the garage and noticed the garage and home were on fire.

Como told police he used the pickup truck he had stolen from the Hivelys and a gas can to light the garage on fire, while Hexum lit the house on fire.

Hexum, who is on probation after being sentenced for helping his brother flee police following a shooting in Yellow Medicine County, has said he wasn't involved in the burglary or arson.

All three men remain in custody, the Star Tribune reports.

The Hivelys, who were involved in the community, had been married for 53 years, raising children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren in southwestern Minnesota.

Memorial services for the couple are scheduled for Tuesday morning.

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