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2 Charged In Connection To Death Of Pregnant Woman Found Inside Burned Travel Trailer

Originally published Nov. 16, 2021

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Two people face murder charges in connection to the death of a pregnant woman whose body was found severely burned inside a travel trailer in Minneapolis earlier this month.

According to Hennepin County court documents, a 27-year-old woman, Jade Monet Rissell, and 42-year-old man, Shannon Michael Benson, are both charged with second-degree murder. They also face additional charges for murder of an unborn child. Both were booked into the Hennepin County Jail.

Jade Rissell and Shannon Benson
Left to right: Jade Rissell and Shannon Benson (credit: Hennepin County)

The complaint says Minneapolis police officers responded on Nov. 8 to a travel trailer fire near 35th Avenue South and Hennepin Avenue. When the fire was put out, officers found the body of a woman who was approximately seven months pregnant. The baby did not survive. The medical examiner said the victim was Annysa Zierhut.

RELATED: Hennepin County Seeks Public's Help Identifying Body Of Pregnant Woman

A witness in the area told police that a woman driving a black Tahoe with the trailer attached asked her for a cigarette, and shortly later the witness saw that the trailer was on fire. Police determined that the trailer had been sold to a man and woman matching the descriptions of Benson and Rissell in September, the complaint said.

After interviewing people close to Zierhut, investigators learned she was reported missing in Anoka sometime in late October. On Oct. 31, the victim's boyfriend attempted to locate her using a "Tile" app that tracks lost keys, leading him to the area of 4th Avenue South and East 25th Street in Minneapolis. There, he took pictures of the travel trailer later found burned, as well as a black Tahoe and another smaller travel trailer.

Police officers went to that location, where they found Benson and Rissell residing in the shorter trailer. They were taken into custody.

'She Had Lured Victim Over Facebook'

After being read their rights, Rissell admitted to lighting the trailer on fire to cover up the victim's body, the complaint said. A week before the fire, Rissell said that she lured the victim over Facebook to their larger travel trailer.

Once the victim was there, Rissell said she then assaulted the victim with brass knuckles, knocking the victim unconscious, the complaint said. They left the victim in the larger trailer for a few days before moving it to 35th and Hennepin to burn it.

The complaint says investigators let the two sit in a room together while being recorded following Rissell's interview. Rissell told Benson "they have too much information" and that "I told them it was me." They then started crying. Rissell also said "I'm going in for murder," to which Benson replied, "me too."

If convicted, both could face up to 40 years in prison.

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