MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Three men face charges in connection to the murder of a couple who were found dead and burned inside their southwest Minnesota home last week.
Early Thursday morning, a passerby called firefighters after seeing the flames coming from Jim and Cathy Hively’s farmhouse near Balaton. Inside, the couple was discovered deceased.
The following day, police arrested 20-year-old Derek Hexum, 18-year-old Theodore Como and 21-year-old Kyle Wesselink in connection to the crime.
Hexum faces two counts of second-degree murder, three counts of first-degree murder, first-degree arson and second-degree arson (liability for crimes of another). Como faces two counts of second-degree murder (liability for crimes of another), three counts of first-degree burglary, as well as first- and second-degree arson.
Wesselink is charged with first-degree arson (liability for crimes of another), first-degree burglary and possession of stolen property (liability for crimes of another).
According to the criminal complaint, during the early hours of April 29, a pickup and a 12-gauge shotgun were stolen from a Lyon County residence near Ghent. A couple hours later, the truck was found burning at a vacant farm site.
Then, six hours after the Hively house fire was reported on April 30, Wesselink was pulled over by Marshall police without a license or insurance for the vehicle. Inside his car’s trunk, police discovered five firearms wrapped in plastic sheeting. One of the guns was a Remington 12-gauge that matched the description of the shotgun stolen the previous day. Three other guns in Wesselink’s possession were also determined to be stolen from the Hively residence, the complaint said.
Wesselink and his passenger, Como, were then taken into custody to be interviewed.
According to the complaint, Como told police in an interview that Wesselink had dropped him and Hexum off in Ghent on April 29 so they could commit a burglary. Then, the two went to the Hively residence to commit another burglary. Como said that he opened the door and Hexum went inside with the shotgun up to his shoulder. While waiting outside, Como said that within moments, he heard four or five shots and someone screaming. They then took some items from the home and the Hively’s Lincoln, the complaint said.
After leaving the Hively’s house, Como says he and Hexum drove some distance away, burned the truck but kept the Lincoln for the day.
During the early morning hours of April 30, Como says he and Hexum decided they needed to destroy the evidence from the Hively residence, so they retrieved gas and returned to the Hively residence. There, they set the house, garage and car on fire, according to the complaint.
Hexum was arrested following the interview at his father’s residence, which is nearby the Hively residence. In his pocket at the time of the arrest was a digital camera subsequently identified as stolen from the Hively residence.
Hexum has denied any knowledge of the burglaries, murders or arson. He says he was in Marshall at a friend’s place when the incidents occurred.
If convicted, the three men face a maximum of 40 or more years in prison.