No charges filed yet in apparent homicideAt least one person believed to be responsible for the “homicidal violence” that killed Floodwood’s Cristyna Watson – whose body was discovered outside a home on Reservation Road last Thursday – is sitting in Carlton County Jail, albeit on charges stemming from an entirely different case.
By: Jana Peterson, Pine Journal
At least one person believed to be responsible for the “homicidal violence” that killed Floodwood’s Cristyna Watson – whose body was discovered outside a home on Reservation Road last Thursday – is sitting in Carlton County Jail, albeit on charges stemming from an entirely different case.
Cloquet Police Chief Wade Lamirande named Michael William Siewert, 22, of Duluth, as a suspect in the Watson case during a press conference Friday at Cloquet City Hall.
Siewert – who police believe is a member of the Native Mob gang – was taken into custody at 11 a.m. Thursday morning, six hours before police discovered Watson’s body. Although police cited him as a suspect in Watson’s death, Siewert was arraigned Friday afternoon in connection with a shooting in August of Stephen James Smith, 19, according to the criminal complaint against him in that case. According to the complaint filed Friday, Smith is also suspected of being a Native Mob gang member and was shot in the foot on Aug. 24 as punishment “for certain gang related activity.”
Siewert was charged formally with second-degree assault in a crime committed for the benefit of a gang and two counts of possession of a firearm by a felon.
Carlton County Attorney Thom Pertler said Wednesday that he hopes to file charges against Siewert in relation to the Watson case Thursday (Oct. 11).
“At this point, no one has been charged [with Watson’s murder],” Pertler said Wednesday afternoon. “Things have been evolving as the investigation has continued. You have to take your time and look at everything, so you can come to the right conclusion – the right people and the right charges.”
Because Siewert is already in custody on $150,000 bail (with no cash option and no pretrial release study authorized), the county attorney’s office does not have to meet the usual three-day deadline to file charges.
Watson, 25, was last seen at her home in Floodwood Sept. 8, when she left to go shopping in Duluth, her mother, Laurie Snaza, said. The last time a family member spoke to Watson was Sept. 12. Law enforcement officials sent out a statewide alert the day before Watson’s body was discovered.
In the “Missing” poster that was posted on Facebook, Watson was described as 5 feet, 9 inches tall, weighing approximately 110 pounds with brown hair and hazel/blue eyes. She drove a gray 2005 Pontiac Grand Prix.
The same poster also stated “her family believes she is being controlled by another person and may not have her car anymore,” and asked that anyone with information call the Floodwood Police Department or visit the Facebook page “HelpFindCristynaWatson.”
In the press conference, Lamirande said Siewert and Watson were “acquainted.”
Paul Gherardi, Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension special agent in charge, said law enforcement officials went to the residence (on the 200 block of Reservation Road) with a search warrant Thursday.
When asked if police went to the Reservation Road home to search for a body, Gherardi said they learned of the address through the investigation.
“We were searching for the victim,” he said, “let’s leave it at that.”
The cause of death, according to Lamirande, was “homicidal violence.” He declined to provide any further details of the cause of death, other than to say she was not shot. The Ramsay County Medical Examiner officially identified Watson’s body Friday.
Lamirande declined to answer questions regarding the condition of the body, and said officials were not certain how long Watson had been dead.
“We can only speculate,” he said, “going back to the time she was reported missing, until the body was discovered at approximately 5 p.m. Thursday.”
Friday morning the residence on Reservation Road was surrounded by law enforcement vehicles, representing the BCA, St. Louis County Sheriff’s Department (which had K9 units there) and Fond du Lac police. Other agencies participating in the investigation included both the Cloquet and Floodwood police departments.
Lamirande said the suspect, Siewert, did not reside at the Reservation Road address, but he did occasionally stay there. When asked if the two residents know that Watson had been killed he did not answer, noting that the investigation was ongoing.
Lamirande said police did not believe Watson was a member of Native Mob but declined to comment on any possible motive for her killing.