MONTEVIDEO, Minn. (WCCO) – Prosecutors have charged a 24-year-old man accused with killing a co-worker with whom he was infatuated.
Eighteen-year-old Vinessa Lozano died last Friday after being stabbed outside of the Pizza Ranch in Montevideo. Friends say she worked there, and also at a nursing home to support her 1-year-old son.
Police say Lozano was murdered just before 9 p.m. Friday by Darek Nelson, who worked at the Pizza Ranch with her. Nelson admitted to police that he brought his hunting knife to work that day with the intention of killing Lozano.
Police say Nelson stabbed her at least 30 times outside the restaurant in the parking lot. When police arrived to the scene, he was standing over her body with his knife in hand. When given a command to drop his weapon, he complied and was arrested.
The criminal complaint says that Lozano told a witness that Nelson had stabbed her before she began to lose consciousness.
Police later said Nelson was infatuated with Lozano but she had turned down his advances towards her.
According to the criminal complaint, Nelson admitted to police officers that he killed her. He described himself as a “loner” who spent most of his time watching anime and collecting Japanese memorabilia, including swords.
Nelson told police Lozano was the “second dearest person to me,” but also said their interactions were one-sided. He said she had shunned him recently and he made the decision to kill her with his hunting knife if she “treated him badly” again.
The criminal complaint says Nelson admitted to stabbing Lozano in the back when they were leaving work. He then continued stabbing her repeatedly, even after a co-worker and police arrived at the scene.
Police told Nelson that she’d died of her injuries and Nelson replied, “I figured she probably would because I was pretty brutal.”
Nelson has been charged with second-degree murder, first-degree manslaughter and two counts of second-degree assault.
Lozano’s family was at Tuesday’s court hearing and said they don’t believe his bail, set at $750,000, is high enough for the second-degree murder charges he is facing.
“Just knowing that he’s behind bars now makes me feel somewhat safe. I would love it if it (Nelson’s bail) would’ve been millions of dollars to make damn sure he’s not getting out,” said Lazano’s mother, Robin Savoy. “I’m just taking it day-to-day and hoping justice prevails.”
The incident has stunned the town of Montevideo, which has just more than 5,000 people. Bonnie Terning, the owner of the Pizza Ranch Restaurant, said she is still in shock by the events that took place.
“Darek is quiet, a very, very shy, very, very good employee. He is always very helpful to anyone and everybody,” Terning said.
Terning said it was an awful sequence of events and something that nobody in the community saw coming.
“We went through that over and over in our heard. Even Friday he didn’t nothing different, everything exactly the way he always does it,” Terning said.
WCCO-TV went to Nelson’s home in rural Montevideo seeking comment. A woman who answered the door would not identify herself and had no comment.
On Friday night, many people in town plan to turn a light on their porch on for Lozano. Her funeral is planned for Saturday at the Community Bible church in Montevideo.
A memorial fund has been set up for Lozano. Donations will be used to help Lozano’s family pay for her funeral expenses. To donate to the fund, send money to the Montevideo Coop Credit Union, P.O. Box 447, Montevideo, MN 56265.