By Bill Hudson

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (WCCO) — Investigators in Eden Prairie have recovered an important clue into the July stabbing death of a 74-year-old homeowner.

His stolen van was found abandoned along a Salt Lake City freeway just hours after his body was discovered inside his Eden Prairie home.

Allen Retzer lived alone in the home along South Bay Curve where neighbors described him as a kind and caring man. Randi Swanberg recalls a friendly person — not the kind to make enemies.

“He would chat with whoever went by and people just enjoyed stopping at his home because it was so beautiful,” Swanberg said.

So when Retzer was found stabbed to death inside the home July 22, his van missing from the garage, neighbors were shocked. Three weeks later, they’re frustrated that so little’s been said.

“He was our neighbor, and we as neighbors I believe have a right to know what happened to our friend,” Swanberg said.

On Tuesday came news that state police in Utah recovered Retzer’s van July 22, the same day that his body was found in his Eden Prairie home. The Chrysler Town and Country mini-van was found abandoned along Interstate 15, just south of Salt Lake City.

“They took possession of all the evidence as well as the vehicle,” Lieutenant Jarred Garcia, with the Utah State Police said.

A search of the van found clues which could possibly lead to Retzer’s likely killer. A number of items are now being tested for DNA, such as food wrappers, liquor bottles, spit sunflower seeds and a cigarette butt.

“I was thinking they have an idea of you know who might be a culprit, so I wasn’t really worried about it,” John Swanberg said.

Now, friends like the Samberg’s got even more reassurance on Tuesday when Eden Prairie police issued a statement saying in part, they are “currently pursuing a person of interest.” They also added that there is “no threat to the general public.”

Those words should help take the edge off a quiet but shaken Eden Prairie neighborhood.

Neighbors also said they hadn’t seen Retzer for a couple days leading up to his murder. According to the search warrant affidavit, the last outgoing calls made on his cellphone came three days prior -– leading to speculation that Retzer was probably killed on July 19. If that is the case it would leave plenty of time for the killer to drive to Utah where the van was located on July 22.

Still, Eden Prairie Police have yet to make any arrests, but it’s clear they are closing in on the person or persons they believe killed Allen Retzer.

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