Suspect in Langenbrunner slaying accused of witness tamperingThe man accused of murdering Trina Langenbrunner is accused of working with his girlfriend to harass, intimidate and threaten witnesses against him.
By: Mark Stodghill, Pine Journal
The man accused of murdering Trina Langenbrunner is accused of working with his girlfriend to harass, intimidate and threaten witnesses against him.
Both also are suspected of being involved with an arson fire set at the residence of a relative of a witness against him.
Joseph John Couture Jr., 41, and Sandra Kay Couture, 38, both of Cloquet, are charged in State District Court in Duluth with aiding and abetting aggravated first-degree witness tampering by threatening another to provide false information to police, aiding and abetting first-degree witness tampering, and aiding and abetting third-degree witness tampering.
“Investigators became aware of concerns from some of our witnesses who were contacted,” said St. Louis County prosecutor Jessica Smith. “Investigators began monitoring phone calls between Joe and Sandra from jail. Through that investigation they were able to corroborate the threats and where they were coming from and that led to the charges.”
Joseph Couture was being held in the St. Louis County Jail on $1 million bail on charges of intentional second-degree murder and second-degree criminal sexual conduct in the 2000 death of Langenbrunner, a 33-year-old mother of three. An additional $200,000 was added to his bail.
Langenbrunner was last seen hitchhiking in the area of Brookston Road between 1:30 and 2 a.m. on Sept. 3, 2000. Joseph Couture was a neighbor of Langenbrunner at the time. The victim’s stabbed body was discovered off a rural road in southern St. Louis County.
Couture was arrested on June 15 after two witnesses came forward identifying the Level 3 sex offender as Langenbrunner’s alleged killer, 12 years after the fact.
Sandra Couture is being held in the St. Louis County Jail on $150,000 bail on the witness tampering charges.
According to the criminal complaints charging witness tampering:
Phone calls made by Joseph Couture revealed the control he had over girlfriend Sandra Couture. They spoke in a code in which it is alleged that Joseph had Sandra attempt to intimidate two witnesses to recant their statements. The threats to the victims are alleged to have occurred between July 6 and July 23.
On July 4, Joseph Couture called his girlfriend and allegedly told her, “I need to (expletive) get out and (expletive) kill people.”
On July 6, the Carlton County sheriff’s office responded to an arson fire at the property of one of the relatives of a witness who claims Joseph Couture killed Langenbrunner. The house, a car and a truck on the property were burned with the structure being a total loss. Two dogs were reported missing and presumed dead. Details of the arson fire were consistent with details discussed beforehand between the Coutures, the complaint alleges.
On July 19, Carlton County deputies returned to the scene of the arson fire when the property owner reported that a second attempt had been made to burn items on his property. Deputies recovered the remains from several Molotov cocktails – glass bottles with accelerant and fuses in them.