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Man charged with killing girlfriend inside her North St. Paul apartment

Man arrested after woman found dead in North St. Paul apartment fire
Man arrested after woman found dead in North St. Paul apartment fire 00:23

NORTH ST. PAUL, Minn. -- A 41-year-old man is facing murder charges after allegedly killing his girlfriend last week inside her North St. Paul apartment, where officials say at least one witness saw him as a fire spread through the apartment. 

Melvin Bilbro, of North St. Paul, was charged Monday in Ramsey County with one count of second-degree murder in connection to the killing of 43-year-old Shanna Daniels. 

According to a criminal complaint, police responded Thursday evening to a fire at Daniels' third floor apartment in a building on the 2200 block of South Avenue East. First responders found her body in the bedroom, partially burned.

Witnesses said that Bilbro was with Daniels most of the day and up until about 15 minutes before police arrived at the apartment complex, where he also lived. The witnesses said that Bilbro was Daniels' boyfriend, and one of them reported that he was in the apartment while it was burning, the complaint states. 

Ramsey County

Inside Daniels' apartment, officers found a pair of scissors and a folding knife covered in blood. Later, a medical examiner determined that Daniels suffered several stab wounds on her head, neck and pelvis area.

She was dead before the fire started, the complaint states. However, her cause of death is still pending toxicology results. 

Officers also searched Bilbro's apartment in a nearby building, where they found clothes covered with blood, keys to Daniels' apartment, and Daniels' dog, which was locked in the bathroom, covered in soot and smelling of smoke. 

Officers found Bilbro early the next morning, sleeping under a Highway 36 overpass on the Gateway State Trail in Washington County. He was carrying a blood-covered piece of paper and an EBT card belonging to Daniels. 

While speaking to officers, Bilbro initially acted surprised when police mentioned the fire, the complaint states. He later said that he was in his apartment at the time and had walked away to smoke marijuana. He also initially denied being in a relationship with Daniels. 

Bilbro had no explanation for the blood-covered clothes in his apartment, nor the dog in his bathroom. 

According to prosecutors, Bilbro has four prior felony convictions for vehicle theft, attempted murder, criminal sexual assault, and assault. If convicted of the murder charge, he faces up to 40 years in prison. He is currently in the Ramsey County Jail. 

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