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Minneapolis woman found dead inside Iowa woman's crashed car in southern Minnesota, charges say

Iowa woman charged after body found in her crashed car
Iowa woman charged after body found in her crashed car 00:37

OLMSTED COUNTY, Minn. — An Iowa woman faces charges after a Minneapolis woman was discovered dead inside her crashed vehicle in southern Minnesota over the weekend. 

According to the Olmsted County Sheriff's Office, deputies responded to a single-vehicle crash on eastbound Interstate 90 near the Highway 42 exit around 7 a.m. Saturday. 

Upon arrival, deputies encountered the driver, identified by officials as 32-year-old Margot Lewis of North Liberty, Iowa. She was out of the vehicle and being tended to by a passerby, according to the sheriff's office.

When checking the vehicle, deputies found a deceased 35-year-old woman in the back seat. The condition of the woman was suspicious, and "it was immediately apparent that the death was not a result of the motor vehicle accident," the sheriff's office said. 

According to the criminal complaint, the body was wrapped in a "bed sheet, a blanket, a futon-style mattress, and a tarp." One of the deputies noted a large wound on the right side of the woman's neck. The medical examiner says preliminary information determined the fatal injuries were not caused by the crash and happened before. 

The Southern Minnesota Regional Medical Examiner's Office later issued an update, identifying the victim as Liara Tsai. Officials say she was "cut and stabbed" by an assailant and died from multiple sharp force injuries. The manner of death is listed as homicide.

Lewis was treated at a local hospital before being arrested for interference with a dead body. Charges were officially filed on Tuesday, the same day she made her first court appearance. She is being held on $1 million bail.  

The Minneapolis Police Department was notified of the incident after receiving a request to conduct a welfare check at Tsai's address on the 700 block of 16th Street East.

According to Minneapolis Police Chief Brian O'Hara, investigators found "a scene indicating violence" at Tsai's address. The Minneapolis Police Department is assisting the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension in its investigation.

On Wednesday, Lewis was charged with two counts of second-degree murder.

If convicted, Lewis faces up to 40 years in prison.

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