Tom Olsen, Forum News Service, Published November 14 2013
Two arrested in December Duluth killing; woman persuaded roommate to kill ex-landlord, authorities sayDULUTH - A Duluth woman persuaded her roommate to kill her former landlord, whom she accused of sexually assaulting her sister and molesting her son, authorities allege.
Joella Lee Tucker, 32, of Duluth, and Raymond Charles Weeks, 42, of Two Harbors, were taken into custody Thursday on warrants in connection with the December 2012 murder of 54-year-old Duluth resident Kevin John Tyman.
Weeks is charged with second-degree murder, while Tucker faces a charge of conspiracy to commit second-degree murder for her role in the slaying. The two are scheduled to make an initial appearance in State District Court in Duluth today.
Tyman died on the night of Dec. 21, 2012, after a single stab wound to the right side of his abdomen resulted in the laceration of his liver, police said. Tyman, who lived in an apartment in Duluth, went to a neighboring apartment just after 10 p.m. that night to ask for help, according to authorities. He was taken to Essentia Health-St. Mary’s Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at 11:36 p.m.
Deputy Police Chief Robin Roeser said the investigation was particularly complicated because it required extensive interviews to piece together.
“It was a very difficult case,” Roeser said at a Thursday afternoon news conference. “We had a number of people to talk to and we had to do a forensic analysis on an item. This case was more complicated than most, but it didn’t sway our staff.”
The two suspects were known to police, Roeser said. A search of Minnesota court records indicates that Tucker has been convicted on several criminal charges, including fifth-degree assault and disorderly conduct. Weeks’ convictions include second-degree assault, third-degree assault, disorderly conduct and obstructing the legal process.
Warrants were issued for Tucker and Weeks this week, and both were taken into custody without incident, Roeser said.
According to the warrants:
Duluth police found Tyman holding his abdomen and in pain on the front steps to the apartment. When officers attempted to ask him what happened, Tyman fell backward onto the sidewalk and drifted in and out of consciousness.
Tyman was taken to St. Mary’s and later died of his injury. A medical examiner declared the death a homicide.
A neighbor who lives across the street told police that she had seen two people run out of the apartment building so fast that they were almost falling. They stumbled in the street and dropped something that made a “clank” sound, the woman said. They picked it up and continued running.
Archie Robinson, who shared an apartment with Tyman, said he was drinking with Tyman, who then decided to go out to buy more alcohol. He described seeing two people “rush” Tyman in front of the building, but did not hear them say anything.
Authorities also talked to a woman who reported that she had been sexually assaulted inside Tyman’s apartment that night. The woman said she told her sister, Joella Tucker, about the incident.
In a later interview, Tucker told police that she used to live in the apartment building and said Tyman was her landlord there. She said she was upset because her sister had been raped there. She said she also was angry because her 3-year-old son was talking about kissing, which he said he learned about from “Kevin.”
“Kevin is a pedophile,” Tucker allegedly told investigators.
Tucker contacted several people demanding that they “take care” of Tyman, police said.
In the days after the homicide, she told one person in a text message that “Kevin would not be raping or molesting anyone again.”
Anthony Schultz, who told authorities that he was with Tucker in her residence on the night of Dec. 21, said that Tucker was talking about her son being arrested, but said “Ray is going to take care of it.” Investigators determined that Raymond Weeks had been living with Tucker during the weeks leading up to the murder.
During the course of the investigation, an officer found a knife in a front yard. The knife was consistent with witness descriptions.
Another roommate, Joshua Marsh, said that on Dec. 20, Tucker, Weeks and another man, Deland Johnson, were discussing stabbing people. Johnson asked Marsh to stab him with a Phillips head screwdriver in the right side of his abdomen, Marsh said.
The next morning, Marsh said, he woke to find Tucker and Weeks in his room demanding that he give them his cellphone. Weeks pulled a knife and told Marsh he wasn’t leaving the residence, he said.
When investigators contacted Weeks in June 2013, he immediately began defending himself before they could even state the reason for the interview, police said. Weeks called himself a “shepherd and a protector of women and children,” and said that he believes in protecting people from “enablers.” Weeks did submit to a DNA test.
Forensic testing of the knife later revealed a mixture of DNA from three or more individuals. Weeks could not be excluded as a contributor of the DNA, but 85.9 percent of the general population could be excluded, according to the lab reports.
Testing also showed that the DNA on the knife could not belong to several other people connected with the case, including Tucker, Johnson and Robinson.