Man charged with conspiracy to commit murder, aid and abetJohn Edwin Bemis III, 38, was charged in Carlton County State District Court Wednesday morning with conspiracy to commit murder in the first degree and assault in the first degree-aiding and abetting based on information provided Tuesday by the woman he is suspected of conspiring with, Bemis’ ex-wife Marie Majerle.
By: Jana Peterson, Pine Journal
Carlton County authorities charged a Cloquet man with two felonies for his alleged role in a January shooting.
John Edwin Bemis III, 38, was charged in Carlton County State District Court Wednesday morning with conspiracy to commit murder in the first degree and assault in the first degree-aiding and abetting based on information provided Tuesday by the woman he is suspected of conspiring with, Bemis’ ex-wife Marie Majerle.
“The information Ms. Majerle provided yesterday isn’t different, it just fills in the gaps that were left open previously,” Carlton County Attorney Thom Pertler said after the Wednesday hearing. “It fits nicely with what the investigators and myself had believed. It made sense.”
Bemis was reported missing by his family two days after Marie Majerle was arrested and charged with attempted homicide for allegedly shooting her estranged husband, Richard Alan Majerle, in the upper chest at his home in the Erickson Acres neighborhood of Cloquet on Jan. 6.
Marie Majerle also was charged with removing or altering a serial number on that firearm. She had been staying with Bemis and their 14-year-old daughter prior to the shooting. Police had searched the Bemis residence the day after and discovered a drill press with fresh metal shavings “consistent with the gun where the serial numbers were shaved off,” Carlton County Attorney Thom Pertler told the court when Marie Majerle was arraigned.
After an initial interview with police, Bemis disappeared the next day, taking with him a large amount of cash, a truck and an ATV. He left their teenage daughter and job behind with no explanation. Although the daughter has been living with family friends since then, on Jan. 30, Pertler filed charges against Bemis for gross misdemeanor charges of child abandonment. The Carlton County Sheriff’s Department then issued a nationwide arrest warrant for Bemis.
Law enforcement officials missed picking up Bemis in California in April, but he was picked up in Reno, Nev., June 14. He was then extradited to Minnesota, arriving Tuesday, June 25.
Also on Tuesday, new evidence came to light regarding the Majerle shooting when Cloquet police detectives re-interviewed Marie Majerle.
According to the complaint:
Marie Majerle told detectives that Bemis had approached her the day before the shooting. In a conversation at the Bemis home, he suggested they make arrangements to shoot Richard Majerle and tried to convince her that Richard was the source of her troubles and anxiety regarding her desire to leave the state and get back together with Bemis.
According to the complaint, Bemis, Marie Majerle and their daughter traveled to Miller Hill Mall in Duluth; then Bemis left them and went to the Super Wal-Mart Center in Hermantown where he purchased the .22 caliber ammunition and returned to the mall. Back at the residence, Bemis allegedly continued the conspiracy by showing Marie Majerle how to load and unload the rifle, instructing her to do the same. He showed her that it was a semi-automatic rifle and could be fired more than one time by simply pulling the trigger. He then showed her where the safety was before he went into the basement and allegedly drilled the serial numbers off the rifle. She said he placed the rifle in her vehicle to be used later that evening or the next morning after her assault on Richard Majerle and advised her where to discard the rifle after the shooting and to take a change of clothes so she could burn the ones she was wearing after the shooting.
According to the complaint, Marie Majerle told investigators Bemis had a job opportunity in Arizona and the only thing preventing him, Ms. Majerle and their child from leaving was the victim Richard Majerle. She also told investigators that she was convinced Bemis would have successfully murdered Richard Majerle because he had made comments about possibly conducting a drive-by shooting of the victim as he went to work or at his home.
Police corroborated Majerle’s information with help from a Wal-Mart video showing Bemis purchasing the ammunition found in Marie Majerle’s car after the shooting. Investigators also found a spare set of clothing she was to have used had she successfully followed through with plans to kill Richard Majerle.
According to the complaint, during Tuesday’s interview with investigators, Marie Majerle said she had decided not to kill Richard Majerle at the time she went to his residence, rather she planned to shoot him in a non-lethal manner. However, she said, when she opened the door to the sauna and pointed the gun at the victim, he flinched in a manner that resulted in the gunshot striking him in a location [between the neck and shoulder] she had not anticipated.
Bail for Bemis was set at $250,000. He is being held at the Carlton County Jail. His next appearance is set for July 7.