MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Hennepin County Medical Examiner says the victim in a Hopkins homicide last Friday died from “multiple chop wounds.”
Officers responded at about 3:40 a.m. to a report of a burglary in progress on the 200 block of 10th Avenue North. When police arrived, they found a nearly-naked man dead in the front yard.
“The neighbor used a tool (an ax) to forcibly chop through the door, confronted our victim, dragged him out of the house and subsequently our victim died of sharp force injuries in the front yard,” said Hopkins Police Sgt. Mike Glassberg.
On Monday, the medical examiner confirmed that the victim’s identity is 67-year-old John Gallagher.
Gallagher and his former neighbor, 24-year-old Mitchell Hoogenakker, reportedly have a documented history.
“The victim in this case had recently filed a harassment restraining order against the suspect,” Glassberg said. “It was subsequently placed into effect on July 27, 2017.”
Police say Hoogenakker made numerous sexual abuse accusations against the victim in the past — none of which were ever founded or prosecuted.
“There was also some issue with our suspect cooperating,” Glassberg said.
Public records show Hoogenakker was civilly committed for mental illness for October of last year, but that was terminated in April.
Jo Vela had only lived in a home for about a month with Hoogenakker, who was one of his roommates. He says Hoogenakker confessed to doing the unthinkable early Friday morning.
“I was in the garage, you know, chilling, and then he came in like if he had just ran or whatever, like really tired, and as soon as I looked it at him really closely he was holding the ax filled with blood,” Vela said. “[Hoogenakker said] ‘Yeah dude, I killed my pedophile, I killed him, I did it,’ or whatever, holding up the ax.”
Gallagher was said to be a long-time Hopkins resident, and was by all accounts an upstanding citizen. He is said to have cared for a woman in her 100s who lived across the alley from him.
According to the criminal complaint, Hoogenakker is charged with second degree murder. The complaint states officers found Gallagher in the front yard with numerous wounds to his back and head, including one so severe it exposed his brain.
Canines tracked Hoogenakker to his home, where they also found the alleged murder weapon with blood on it, as well as hair that matched Gallagher’s. The name “Hoogenakker” was etched onto the shaft of the weapon.
After his arrest, Hoognakker admitted to authorities he killed Gallagher with the weapon. He is in custody at the Hennepin County Jail.