SAINT PAUL, Minn. — Was there an intruder? Or was there not? The murder of Heidi Firkus boils down to that.
Her husband Nick Firkus is now charged with 2nd Degree Murder, 11 years after Heidi was killed. She was shot in the back with Nick's shotgun after what he told police was a struggle with an intruder.
Newly unsealed search warrants reveal that at first, Nick gave minimal descriptive details about the suspect.
But through his lawyer, two weeks later, Nick gave police a detailed sketch – drawn by a private artist – of a Black man in a hoodie whom Nick said was the intruder.
The face looked familiar to St. Paul Police. Just four months earlier, they investigated a series of break-ins committed by Michael Lee Pye. It was all over the news at the time, because those crimes happened in the morning with the homeowners inside.
Just like Heidi's case.
But there was just one problem. Michael Pye couldn't have killed Heidi. Because he was already in prison when she died.
Police interviewed Pye in 2010 while he was incarcerated. He was arrested Jan. 1, 2010. Heidi was murdered April 25, 2010.
"Police showed me the picture, and I said, that's me!" said Pye, who has finished his prison sentence and is now living in St. Paul.
When asked if he believes Nick Firkus tried to frame him, Pye said, "Yeah, without a doubt."
According to the search warrant affidavit, St. Paul Police believe the sketch is based on Pye's mugshot.
Although the police interview made Pye nervous at the time, he felt relieved to know he was behind bars when the murder was committed.
"If I wouldn't have been locked up, I would have had a murder case. Even though I never shot nobody, period, you know?" Pye said.
Pye said he began to turn his life around during his prison sentence, when he joined a Christian ministry.
"From that religious program, my counselors in that program showed me nothing but love when I was feeling that I was the kind of person that you shouldn’t show love to, because of the home invasions that I did," Pye said. "I'm proud of going to prison. Because, I wouldn't have a relationship with God that I've got right now, if I wouldn't have went to prison."
As for Nick Firkus, who is currently free after posting $1 million dollars bail, Pye hopes he takes responsibility and Heidi's family gets justice.
Nancy Muellner, who drew the sketch for Nick Firkus and his legal team, told KARE 11 News that Firkus did not provide a photo or newspaper for her to copy. He described the face, she drew features, asked him if it looked accurate, and made changes until he said the sketch resembled the alleged home invader.