When deputies responded to a call about a loose dog in Vadnais Heights Saturday, they found a dead body, criminal charges say.
Jeffrey Alan Thomas, of Vadnais Heights, is charged with second-degree murder, according to a criminal complaint filed in Ramsey County District Court Monday. Thomas is accused of shooting his friend, whose name had not been released as of Monday afternoon, the charges say. Both men were 55 years old.
Around 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, deputies responded to a loose dog call and were unable to reach the owner with the phone number listed on the dog’s collar, the charges said. Deputies then spoke to a woman who said the dog belonged to her son. She told investigators he was staying with a friend who lived on the 4000 block of Thornhill Drive in Vadnais Heights, next door to where the dog had been found.
Deputies went to the address, and found Thomas sitting in a wheelchair behind a Honda Pilot parked halfway in the garage. Underneath the car, deputies saw the body of man. Thomas told investigators the dog belonged to the man, who was a friend, according to the charges.
A deputy asked Thomas if his friend was OK, because he wasn’t moving. When the deputy tried to look closer at the body, Thomas blocked their path with his wheelchair, the charges said.
The man’s body was covered in blood and it was clear he was dead, the charges said. The pool of blood that surrounded the body had wheelchair marks and footprints in it. Deputies saw blood on Thomas’ right foot and on his hand, the charges said.
Deputies also saw that the man was pinched between a floor jack and the rear of the car. The man’s mid-torso was on the lift plate for the floor jack, the charges said.
Thomas appeared intoxicated and was slurring his words, said the complaint. He told investigators he had known the man 20 years and that he had helping him change the oil in his vehicle. The friend and his dog arrived from Tennessee on Aug. 21 and they were going to go fishing, the charges said.
Thomas couldn’t give an explanation for why the man was on the car jack before telling deputies that he thought the car had maybe fallen on the man, according to the complaint.
When deputies entered the house, they spotted a used shell casing on the floor, as well as pools of blood and bloody drag marks. They also found a hole in a wall and an apparent bullet hole, the charges said. Deputies found no one else inside and collected no evidence at the time.
A search warrant was later obtained for the residence and bullets and casings were recovered. Blood stains were also found throughout the home, the charges said. A handgun, bloody blankets and a hammer were recovered from the car in the driveway.
The Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s Office conducted an autopsy on the man, and found that a single bullet entered his chest and exited his back, striking his heart and lung and causing major internal bleeding, the charges said.
Thomas was arrested and is being held in the Ramsey County jail. His first court appearance is scheduled for Tuesday.