MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The man accused of strangling his mother and setting her body on fire last week made his first court appearance in Ramsey County on Wednesday.

Michael Caldwell, 20, faces a charge of second-degree murder for allegedly strangling his mother Lorine Johnson, 49, and setting her body on fire.

On Sept. 6, firefighters discovered Johnson’s body in her bedroom after responding to a fire at the home on 969 Carroll Ave. in St. Paul.

The day before, Johnson picked up Caldwell from a mental institution in Kansas City, Missouri. Caldwell wound up there after reportedly getting kicked off a bus and arrested.

Against doctor’s advice, Johnson signed her son out of the institution because she wanted him home.

On Sept. 7, St. Paul Police found Caldwell at United Hospital after an emergency room worker called 911, saying a patient had confessed to murdering someone. After being arrested, Caldwell admitted to killing his mother. He said they were arguing about insurance. He said he lit her on fire with matches and lighter fluid.

Caldwell will be back in court on Sept. 25. He’s expected to enter a plea at that time. For now, he’ll remain in Ramsey County Jail on a $500,000 bond.

If convicted, Caldwell faces a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison.


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