Stolen Bible led police to men charged in beating death of 90-year-old, charges say


Two men are charged in the robbery and fatal beating of an elderly Carver County man, who was found bound and beaten in his rural San Francisco Township farmhouse last month.

Reinol Godines Vergara (35, of Richfield) and Edson Celin Dominguez Benitez, (29, of St. Paul) were charged in Carver County District Court Wednesday in the death of 90-year-old Earl Olander.

Vergara is charged with two counts of second-degree murder, while Benitez is charged with two counts of aiding and abetting second-degree murder. They are both being held on $500,000 cash bail or $1.5 million bond following a bail hearing Wednesday, the Chaska Herald reports.

The two suspects were arrested Tuesday after the county sheriff's office got a tip from a citizen following weeks of officials asking for the public's help. A reward offered by Crime Stoppers of Minnesota started at $1,000 but had increased to $7,500 recently.

According to the criminal complaints:

A man who was cleaning out a recently vacated apartment in St. Paul discovered two $1,000 savings bonds issued to Earl Olander inside a Bible written in European language. He searched the Internet and found Olander had been killed, so he called police on May 9.

Police learned Benitez had previously lived in the apartment and when police questioned him, he admitted to possessing the stolen Bible.

Vergara had known Olander previously after painting his house and shed. He told police Olander would be an easy target because he lived alone and had money.

On April 9 or 10, the two men – who had their faces disguised with hoods – drove to Olander's house from the Twin Cities. They had a shotgun, duct tape and rope.

They parked in back of Olander's home and entered through the unlocked back door. Olander was asleep on the couch.

The two men covered his head with a blanket and attacked him. Olander fought back and was hit in the head with the shotgun, then hit in the face, head and body. They then held him down and duct taped his hands.

The two ransacked the home, taking coins, old silverware, two dollar bills, and a Bible written in European language, then fled, leaving a bound and bloodied Olander in the living room.

When police arrived at the home on April 11, they found Olander's body. The duct tape around his wrists was stretched, indicating he was trying to free himself, and the blood around his body was in an arch pattern, showing his body had moved back and forth.

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