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Brother helps police nab man accused of vicious killing, robbery

Lucifer Nguyen

BLAINE, Minn. -- After a three-day manhunt, Lucifer Nguyen, a suspect in a Mendota Heights homicide on Saturday, was captured late Monday night in Blaine.

Nguyen, 44, of New Hope, was arrested after a car he was a passenger in was pulled over at about 11:30 p.m., apparently after his brother helped law enforcement locate him.

On Tuesday morning, Nguyen made a first appearance in Dakota County District Court in Hastings on charges filed against him Monday, several hours before he was captured. Bail was set at $1.5 million without conditions (or $1 million with conditions); he remained at Dakota County Jail late Tuesday.

“I believe we asked for an appropriate amount of bail given the circumstances and the nature of these crimes,” Dakota County Attorney Jim Backstrom said after the court hearing.

Prosecutors have charged Nguyen with second-degree murder, two counts of first-degree aggravated robbery and one count each of first-degree burglary and kidnapping in connection with the series of events Saturday morning in the usually serene suburb.

Authorities said Nguyen fatally shot Beverly Cory, 48, of Maplewood, while fleeing authorities following a home-invasion robbery Saturday morning. An autopsy showed she died of a bullet to the head.

Nguyen then allegedly stole her 2005 Toyota Corolla, ditched it at the Washington County Fairgrounds later Saturday morning and remained on the lam.

He was last seen Saturday in the Stillwater area, authorities said Monday. A nationwide arrest warrant for Nguyen was issued Monday after charges were filed against him.

In a Tuesday statement, Mendota Heights Police Chief Kelly McCarthy thanked law enforcement “for your hard work in helping us catch this guy. Obviously, I would give anything to be able to turn back time and have Mrs. Cory be alive, but this is the next best thing.”

BROTHER HELPED COPS

Police  radio communications captured by MNPoliceClips.com reveal the Minnesota State Patrol coordinating the arrest with the U.S. Marshals Service and police from Blaine and Anoka County before 11:30 p.m. Monday.

Nguyen was a passenger in a blue Acura traveling north on Central Avenue from U.S. 10 through Blaine, one officer states.

“He is unarmed at this time,” the officer says. “I have his brother on the phone and he is following him.” The officer says that the brother will signal the officers by turning on the hazards of his SUV when the officers are close.

As squad cars rendezvous with what appears to have been a procession of cop cars preparing to pull Nguyen’s car over — with a State Patrol helicopter en route — one of the squads pulls up alongside Nguyen’s vehicle at a traffic light to try to confirm his presence.

“Yes, this is legitimate info,” the officer says, relaying a quick description of one of the occupants, presumably Nguyen.

Afterward, officers turn on their squad lights and pull over the Acura near Central Avenue and 117th Street. The words “in custody” are heard on the police radio, along with “Code 4,” indicating the scene is secure.

CHARGED WITH MURDER

The chain of events that led to the shooting began at about 9 a.m. Saturday, after a report of a home-invasion robbery by a man with a pistol in the 1600 block of Delaware Avenue in Mendota Heights.

According to the criminal charges against Nguyen:

A woman told police that she was in her home with her 2-year-old grandchild when a man knocked on the front door and asked if it was the “Miller” residence. She told him it was not and he got inside a white sedan and left.

A short time later, the woman was in her bedroom with the child when the man entered, pulled out a handgun and demanded money. He took her cash and wallet and left.

Officers responding to the home spotted the sedan and pulled it over. After stopping briefly, the suspect fled at a high rate of speed.

Officers pursued the car, which crashed in a pond.

“It was quite an amazing crash,” Backstrom said Tuesday. “The car went airborne — as I’m told — at least a hundred feet or more before it landed in the pond. By the time police got there, he had already run from the scene.”

Items found in the car linked it to Nguyen, whom the woman later identified in a photo lineup as the man who robbed her.

At 9:07 a.m., officers were called to White Pine Senior Living near Dodd Road and Minnesota 110 on a report that a man with a pistol had forced his way into the building. An employee told police a man with a gun, whom she later identified as Nguyen, forced her into a laundry room and took her work keys.

While residents were being evacuated from the senior care facility, officers received a report that blood was seeping underneath a door in a suite at a business center across the street.

Tactical officers entered Mendota Heights Business Center and found Cory on the floor.

A homeowner who lives across the street from the Washington County Fairgrounds — where Cory’s car was found abandoned Sunday — told investigators that he was approached about 11 a.m. Saturday by a man matching the description of Nguyen who requested a ride to a nearby casino. The homeowner declined to give him a ride.

Nguyen was recently released from Douglas County (Wis.) Jail after posting $10,000 bond relating to felony drug and battery charges. He allegedly was in possession of nearly a pound of methamphetamine and while in custody assaulted another inmate.

In Minnesota, Nguyen has prior convictions for misdemeanor theft and drunken driving.

Backstrom called Nguyen’s alleged crimes in Mendota Heights “shocking.”

“I also want to express my deep sadness for this terrible tragedy in our community,” he said. “Our hearts go out to Beverly Cory’s spouse, her family, her friends … and all of the other victims involved in this frightening experience.”

Dave Orrick contributed to this report.

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