MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The manhunt for an accused killer spread to the woods near a Twin Cities casino on Wednesday.
A witness spotted a man who looked like Lyle “Ty” Hoffman in Prior Lake Tuesday outside Mystic Lake Casino.
Hoffman is wanted for the murder of his ex-boyfriend, Kelly Phillips. Police said he shot him outside an Arden Hills gas station last month.
Authorities shifted their search from the north metro to more than 30 miles south. And the manhunt for Hoffman went from Blaine to Mystic Lake Casino.
“There was a visual sighting of him. Some additional information led us to believe he might have gone into the woods,” said John Kirkwood of the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Department.
Investigators watched the woods near the casino all night.
Then a second sighting happened Wednesday at around 7:45 a.m.
Police think Hoffman used money he stole from a bank in Blaine to pay for a bus ride to the casino, where he may have been trying to launder the stolen cash.
“It was scary driving down the road. I was shaking. I was literally shaking,” said witness Josh DePyper.
DePyper and Jacob Davis were camping near Mystic Lake when they came across dozens of officers.
“There were police lined up all the way down the road, and they had assault rifles pointed into the swamp area,” Davis said.
But after hours of searching, there was no sign of Hoffman.
The manhunt has now led police from Arden Hills, where investigators said Hoffman shot Phillips, to searches at the Anoka County Airport, to a TCF Bank in Blaine, and now to Mystic Lake Casino.
Phillips’ family and friends say they’re frustrated Hoffman hasn’t been caught.
But they say “the net is quickly tightening around both him and anyone who may be aiding him.”
Kirkwood says Hoffman has been lucky.
“We’ve followed up on any lead we can, and he’s just been somewhat lucky at this point,” he said.
There was a third sighting of a man who looked like Hoffman getting into an SUV.
A witness managed to snap a picture and send it to authorities.
But police later said it wasn’t connected.
They do believe, however, that Hoffman, is getting help hiding.
That may be why he hasn’t used his credit cards or cell phone.
Anyone with information should immediately contact police at 911 or anonymously at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).
Officers want tips but the problem with some of the tips has been that people aren’t calling them in right away, and police then lose time and ground.
Recently, the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office issued Hoffman’s revised wanted poster, which reflects the increased reward of $25,000 raised by the community and offered by Crime Stoppers.