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Charges: St. Paul woman killed ex-husband, buried him in backyard

40-year-old Karina S. Her allegedly shot and killed her ex-husband in July before burying him under a newly-built shed in her backyard.
Credit: Ramsey County Sheriff's Office

ST PAUL, Minn. — A St. Paul woman is charged with second-degree murder after prosecutors say she killed and buried her ex-husband. 

A criminal complaint alleges that 40-year-old Karina S. Her shot her ex-husband in early July and buried him in her backyard under a newly-built shed, where his body was found nearly a month later. 

Police said Her is suspected of killing 50-year-old Kou Yang on or about July 1. According to the complaint, investigations began on July 22, when a woman called 911 to ask for a welfare check as she hadn't seen Yang in recent weeks. 

Officers went to Her's house on the 1100 block of Kennard Street and spoke to Her, who said she didn't know where Yang was. She allegedly told police that Yang mentioned visiting his sister in Oklahoma, and said she had threatened to get an order of protection against him. Her added that he had left sometime around June 30 and said belongings, including two vehicles, were gone. 

Later on July 22, the complaint states that Her called 911 to report Yang missing. She said the two were divorced but still living together until their house was sold. 

That night, prosecutors said Her's 17-year-old daughter called 911 and said she thought her mother may have killed Yang. She said she had been staying with a friend since June 29 and that Her had told her to stay at that friend's house. When she returned on July 2, she said a security camera had been removed from the garage. 

The daughter said her 12-year-old sister texted her, saying "Mommy is suspicious" after police left the house on July 22. According to the complaint, the younger girl said Her had taken her to Taylors Falls, where she left a trash bag with an "unknown long object" in the woods. 

The older daughter allegedly told police she thought Her had killed Yang and "buried him in the garden." She said when she came home on July 2, there was a hole in the backyard covered with a tarp, and that Her built a shed over the area. 

One neighbor also told police that they noticed a "bad smell" coming from "back in the corner by the garden" of Her's house shortly after July 5. The neighbor said the smell lasted about a week.

On July 29, a cadaver dog searching the house's property "indicated interest" in the shed handle and door. After executing a search warrant, blood spatter was found on a painted-over wall in one bedroom, as well as on a window, a carpet machine in the garage and in the house's laundry room.

The area beneath the shed was excavated on July 31 and a body, later identified as Yang by the Ramsey County Medical Examiner, was found. 

According to the complaint, Yang's cause of death was "cerebral laceration and destruction" because of two gunshot wounds found on the back of his head. The medical examiner called Yang's manner of death a homicide.

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