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Charges: Man Beats Elderly Anoka Man To Death, Steals Valuables

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- A 27-year-old man is accused of beating a 95-year-old Anoka man to death before stealing his valuables over the weekend, according to charges filed in Anoka County Friday.

Isaiah Montrell Thomas, of Anoka, faces two counts of second-degree murder. At his first appearance in court Friday, Thomas became combative with the judge, arguing over his understanding of his rights and his wish to find his own attorney.

Judge Kristin Larson decided Thomas' previous criminal record and his plans to flee to California was sufficient cause to set his bail at $2 million.

According to the criminal complaint, Anoka police officers were dispatched on Nov. 28 at 10:47 a.m. to the report of an elderly man found dead in his home, located on the 1200 block of 5th Avenue in Anoka.

Relatives said Al Loehlein's family dropped him off at his home on Thanksgiving night. Monday morning, a family member found his body inside his house.

When officers arrived on scene, they say Loehlein appeared to have been beaten to death due to severe injuries to his head, face and neck. There was a significant amount of blood splatter throughout the room, the complaint said.

Al Loehlein
Al Loehlein (credit: Loehlein Family)

The medical examiner said it appears Loehlin had been deceased for at least one day and more likely two days. His cause of death was determined to be blunt force trauma with multiple blows to his head, face and neck.

During the investigation, the county's crime scene unit located a latent fingerprint on a small wooden box and determined the print belonged to Thomas. He intermittently resides at an apartment less than a fifth of a mile away from Loehlein's residence.

Investigators soon learned that Thomas pawned a small mantle clock at a Maplewood pawn show on Nov. 27. Family members positively identified it as being taken from Loehlein's residence, along with two pocket watches. Authorities also note that there was no evidence that more than one person entered the residence and/or killed Loehlein.

On Nov. 30, officers stopped a vehicle that Thomas was a passenger in. Officers then arrested him and found a gold watch during a search.

A witness who knew Thomas said he contacted him and asked for a ride on Saturday, Nov. 26. The witness picked Thomas up less than a block from Loehlein's home. Thomas then put several items into the witness' trunk. The witness then dropped Thomas off.

The next day, Thomas contacted the witness and met with him to pick up the items he left in the trunk. At their meet up in Fridley, Thomas allegedly told the witness, "S—t man, I f—ked up," and said, "That old man … you'll see it [on the news]." The witness said Thomas also said he planned to flee to California.

John Loehlein, the victim's son, was in the courtroom Friday with his wife. He talked to WCCO about his father's independence.

"He wouldn't move out of that home, where he lived and raised his family," Loehlein said. "[My father] was going to stay there, he trusted people and he had a good life. I wish it was more."

Anoka County Attorney Tony Palumbo expressed frustration over what he called a "senseless killing."

"Having someone live in their home for a good, long time, 95 years, only to be taken by someone whose main intent appeared to be greed to rob this particular house," Palumbo said. "This is an offense where everyone is outraged and frustrated at the senseless killing of an elderly gentleman. The killer showed no mercy to the victim. The state will show no mercy to the killer."

The burglary and murder shocked the Anoka community, especially among the elderly population. Many were in fear and saw it as a public safety nightmare: a home intrusion resulting in a murder.

Police Chief Eric Peterson was quick to quell those fears.

"I think our elderly community, our community as a whole can rest easier a little bit easier now knowing we have a suspect in custody," Peterson said.

Loehlein raised six children in the home where he had lived for 67 years. He had been living alone for the past 10 years after losing his wife. His family said he still gardened, made maple syrup, tended to his grapes and cared for his own lawn.

If convicted, Thomas faces up to 40 years in prison per murder charge. His next court appearance is set for Dec. 15.

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