She was killed 34 years ago; now a suspect is charged with her murder

DNA evidence led to the charge in the Minneapolis case
Author:
Updated:
Original:

"He's been a target of ours for a long time," is what Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman had to say about Darrell Rea on Wednesday. 

The county's head prosecutor had just charged Rea, now 62, with murdering a 17-year-old Minneapolis girl back in 1983. 

DNA evidence, Freeman said, has finally given prosecutors a strong enough case to charge Rea, who is in jail with his bail set at $1 million

"In 1983 we didn't have DNA as a tool. We had blood and we had some evidence but it was simply not enough," Freeman said. 

The case

Rea is charged with second degree murder in the death of Lorri Mesedahl, whose body was found along some railroad tracks in north Minneapolis on the morning of April 2, 1983. 

Investigators said she'd been raped and beaten to death. Swabs of semen were taken from her body but there was no DNA testing back then. 

Thirty years later during a push to solve cold cases, investigators took the semen out of storage and put together a DNA profile of the suspect. More recently that profile was found to match Rea's DNA, which was on file with the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, the criminal complaint says. 

The victim

"Lorri was your all-American 17-year-old girl back in 1983," her friend Sue Baker said at a news conference Wednesday. 

Mesedahl had been to a party on the night she was killed. Investigators learned that after getting home, she had slipped out of the house again to visit a friend. But the friend's grandmother would not let her into the house so late at night. That was the last time Mesedahl was seen alive, authorities say. 

"She was free-spirited, always had a smile on her face, and made us laugh," said Baker. "Clothes, hair, and spending time with friends on the weekends were what made her happy. And that's what she was doing on that last Friday night of her life, with us." 

The suspect 

County Attorney Freeman says over the years Darrell Rea was convicted of some minor crimes. But he was a suspect in several other cases, especially sexual assaults, dating back to the 1970s. He was arrested and sometimes charged with those crimes but never convicted.

DNA tests in the 1990s connected him to at least one of those cases, but by then the statute of limitations has expired and Rea could not be prosecuted. 

There is no statute of limitations for murder. A conviction on the second-degree charge could bring 40 years in prison for Rea. His next court appearance is scheduled for Friday.

Next Up

Chad Beebe

Chad Beebe's roller-coaster fourth-quarter keeps Vikings playoff hopes alive

A muffed punt and a game-winning touchdown helped defeat the Panthers on Sunday afternoon.

127266986_2766399800267634_3587849554502438415_n

West-central MN cops warn kids to stay off ice, or 'Santa won't come'

This comes amid repeated ice warnings across the state.

covid-19, coronavirus, PPE

Nov. 29 COVID-19 update: 57 deaths, nearly 9,000 more cases

Nearly 100,000 tests were included in Sunday's report.

jim ramstad

Watch former Rep. Jim Ramstad's memorial service online

The ceremony will be live-streamed for the public on Sunday.

EDL1LeKXsAEeH32

How high can Rashod Bateman go in the 2021 NFL Draft?

The Gophers star receiver has plenty of praise heading into next April.

TCF Bank Stadium

15 more from Gopher football team test positive for COVID-19

That brings the total number of cases from this outbreak to 40.

Teddy Bridgewater

5 questions for Vikings-Panthers Week 12 NFC battle

The Vikings welcome Teddy Bridgewater back to U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday.

police lights

Shelter-in-place in Albert Lea after police officer shot in the chest

The officer was able to drive to an emergency room.

En-KfRaXEAEbuE7

St. Paul officer shoots man who got out of dumpster, ran towards police

A report says the man was naked and had a steak knife.

Screen Shot 2020-11-28 at 6.58.11 PM

Gophers dominate second half to defeat Loyola-Marymount

Marcus Carr scored 26 to send the Gophers to 2-0.

Ambulance hospital emergency

Kandiyohi Co. man airlifted after hand caught in corn picker

Corn pickers are a common cause of farm accidents.

White tail deer

DNR: Passenger shot at deer out of driver's side window

The DNR said 'all sense of safety was disregarded.'

Related

Hennepin County Government Center

MN mom accused in son's 2018 death now charged with murder

Tasha Tennin was originally charged with manslaughter.

Miller-brantley

Charges: Man killed mom-of-3 after she kicked him out of her home

The 27-year-old's body was found in her Frogtown home on Friday.

Ochea Brown

Charges: Man killed mom-of-two by hitting, dragging her with car

The incident happened in Minneapolis in the early hours of May 29.

Angelo Borreson

Charges: Man killed woman after she told him to hurry up

The deadly incident happened on New Year's Day morning.

Minneapolis cop charged with sex crimes against 16-year-old girl

Charges say the Minneapolis officer abused his son's girlfriend

Devin Belcourt

3rd suspect charged for 'chilling' murder in Bemidji-area incident

The violent crimes included murder, arson, robbery and a shootout.