By Esme Murphy

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Friends and clients of a beloved Richfield Nail Salon owner are expressing anguish over her death.

On Monday morning, Minneapolis police responded to a 911 call at Michelle Le’s home on the city’s south side.

Inside, officers found her body.

Police arrested her husband, Tony Le, and on Tuesday he was charged with second-degree murder. He’s accused of strangling his wife of 20 years with a phone cord.

tony le mug My Heart Is Broken: Clients Mourn Death Of Beloved Nail Salon Owner

(credit: Hennepin County)

Friends say Michelle Le had recently told him she wanted a divorce.

For clients, she was much more than someone who did their nails.

“I am going to miss her so much — not only was she a manicurist, she is a friend,” said client Karen Stone.

Like many clients, Stone followed Michelle Le from salon to salon and finally to Penn Nails and Spa in Richfield, which Le bought about five years ago.

“My heart is broken,” Stone said. “I have known Michelle for 17 years, I have had dinner at her home.”

Stone wasn’t the only customer who described Le’s remarkable home cooked Vietnamese meals and her devotion to her two, young adult sons.

On Tuesday, longtime customer Barb Gellatly was filling in at the Penn Nails reception desk.

“It’s an honor to do this,” she said. “It’s an honor to help Michelle.”

Vietnam veteran Charles Parsons said Le helped him with foot problems and the two would swap stories about Vietnam.

“She was just one of those exceptional people,” Parsons said. “It’s so sad she is no longer with us.”

Michelle Le had confided to some clients of problems in her marriage.

Three days before her death, she visited a divorce attorney. But for the clients who know her husband, there is disbelief.

“It’s unspeakable,” Gellatly said. “How do you do that?”

At the salon, there are many floral tributes and a small Buddhist shrine for Le.

Customers say they will do everything to help Le’s family keep the salon running because they know Le would have wanted it that way.

Tony Le is expected to make his first court appearance Wednesday.

Comments (2)
  1. Karen Stone is my sister. She talked about Michelle many, many times and always with such love. Karen said Michelle treated her employees with such care and respect.

  2. Tony Le must have been broke. diversity culture is to just buy a new child bride.

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