MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Kandiyohi County attorney filed charges against three teens accused of robbing and killing a 79-year-old Willmar woman.
Sheriff’s deputies found Lila Warwick dead in her home in Willmar on Monday night. Investigators say she’d been strangled and stabbed.
On Wednesday, authorities arrested 19-year-old Brok Junkermeier and a 16-year-old boy. On Thursday, they arrested Warwick’s 17-year-old grandson, Robert.
All three were in court Friday morning.
“It’s not just the victim, their family, but everyone involved in the case,” said Kandiyohi Sheriff Dan Hartog.
According to the criminal complaint, the trio had a plan to kill Warwick and take her money. Junkermeier told investigators that Warwick thought Lila had a safe, containing $40,000 in her home.
Warwick lived alone and served as a church volunteer.
The criminal complaint states Junkermeier broke into her home, early Monday morning, while the 16-year-old boy waited in the car. It details Junkermeier admitting to a friend that he cut Warwick with a sword-like knife and forced her to access her bank account on a computer. It also states he made her write out a $1,500 check.
It states he strangled Warwick — repeatedly stabbed her — and threw her body in the basement.
According to the complaint Junkermeier and Robert returned to the house to take a safe. They returned again, but found authorities at the home.
“We’ve had to deal with cases, like that, in the past where we’ve had younger people that have killed other people,” Hartog said. “You wonder what went wrong. Where did they turn the other corner to think about killing someone.”
Junkermeier is charged with second-degree murder with intent, not premeditated. If convicted, he could face up to 40 years in prison.
Ahead of Friday’s charges, a former schoolmate of Junkermeier said he thinks the 19-year-old got caught up with the wrong crowd.
“I figured it was probably a burglary,” said Andrew Chermak, a Willmar High School Graduate. “Usually there aren’t hits out for 79-year-old women so I figured there was a burglary that went wrong but then when you hear about how she died, that’s when it gets kind of scary.”
Charges against Warwick’s grandson or the younger boy accused of being involved in this murder haven’t been filed, at this point.
Junkermeier’s father happens to be an attorney in Willmar. By phone on Thursday, he said he’s sad for all the families in this case.
Tips from the public helped investigators find the teens. The Kandiyohi County prosecutor filed paperwork to have the two younger teens tried as adults.