- Twenty-one-year-old Tyler Monroe may have been looking to flee to Canada after killing his father last year in a Merrill apartment.
But in court on Wednesday, Monroe's defense attorney suggested it was also plausible someone else killed Kevin Monroe, 55.
On July 14, prosecutors charged Tyler Monroe with killing Kevin Monroe in January 2016 and hiding his corpse. On Wednesday, Lincoln County Judge Jay Tlusty found enough evidence to support the charge and allowed the case to continue.
Merrill Police Lt. Investigator Patrick Wunsch spent an hour on the witness stand Wednesday, laying out evidence against Tyler Monroe.
Wunsch testified a relative named Mark Floyd found Kevin Monroe's body in Monroe's Merrill apartment on January 12, 2016. Tyler Monroe had been living at the apartment, and had tried to keep a visiting Floyd from going into a locked bedroom.
"[Floyd] shouldered the door and then fell into the room once the door broke open. That's where he discovered Kevin Monroe's body on the ground," Wunsch said.
Floyd told police he saw an open window in the bedroom. Winter temperatures were in the single digits or below zero. Floyd also found a fan in the bedroom.
"It appears to have been positioned in a manner that would have been behind Kevin's body and blowing toward an open window on the north side of the wall," Wunsch testified.
The State Crime Lab later examined parts of the apartment for blood traces.
"Kevin's body had been dragged from the kitchen westward, which would be up on this photograph, across the threshold into the living room, rounding the corner into the bedroom, leading to where Kevin Monroe's body was eventually located," Wunsch said.
Wunsch testified the finding of the corpse was preceded by odd behavior by both Kevin and Tyler Monroe.
No one heard directly from Kevin Monroe after January 4, 2016, and he stopped showing up at his job at Northern Wire. Merrill Police interviewed a coworker who said that was out of character.
"Kevin was his friend and coworker, and was normally dependable, had only missed one or two days of work [in his career]," Wunsch explained.
That week, Kevin Monroe's downstairs apartment neighbor heard odd sounds and smelled odd things coming from upstairs, according to Wunsch. On January 11, she went to use the shower in Kevin Monroe's apartment, since her hot water was out. Only Tyler Monroe was at the apartment. The neighbor told police she saw suspicious things in the apartment.
"She said Tyler came up from her side, proceeded to hold a gun against her head, and told her that if she said anything to anybody, he would shoot her or would shoot her and her family," Wunsch said.
That rattled the neighbor.
"She, I believe, huddled her children with a mattress in one room and stayed up throughout the night," Wunsch said.
Police found Kevin Monroe's body on January 12 and later arrested Tyler Monroe after he crashed a car registered to his father in central Lincoln County. He was initially charged with lesser crimes until the July 14, 2017 murder charges.
Judge Tlusty found probable cause Tyler Monroe committed the felonies he's charged with committing, binding Tyler Monroe over for trial.
Assistant Attorney General Shelly Rusch is working with Lincoln County District Attorney Galen Bayne-Allison to prosecute the case.
Rusch argued Tyler Monroe's cash bond should be raised from $10,000 to $1 million in light of the new charges.
"The incentive to flee is particularly high when you're looking at life in prison," Rusch said. "The evidence suggests that he certainly was fleeing the scene and was on his way somewhere else."
That destination may have been Canada. Tyler Monroe was found with outdoor equipment, sleeping equipment, and guns, suggesting he may have been looking to spend an extended amount of time outside. A computer search revealed Tyler Monroe had been looking up information on Canadian currency exchange rates the day he fled Merrill in January 2016.
Defense attorney Alec Nocco argued a $1 million cash bond was far too high, saying it was simply "for show," but Tlusty agreed to the $1 million request.
During Wednesday's preliminary hearing, Nocco suggested it might have actually been Floyd who killed Kevin Monroe. Floyd claimed to find the body.
"If the evidence points to somebody else, it's certainly not plausible that my client could have committed this crime," Nocco said after questioning Wunsch about Floyd.
Nocco also pointed out the case lacks at least one piece of evidence, getting Wunsch to admit police had found no murder weapon.
In an interview after the hearing, Rusch said the lack of a murder weapon had no bearing on the case.
Click the link below for a related story on the Monroe case.
After 18-month investigation, Merrill man charged with stabbing his father to death