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Murder charges filed after body found in tote near Mille Lacs Lake

A preliminary investigation determined a container found by maintenance workers held the body of the victim, prosecutors said.

MILLE LACS, Minn. — The person of interest in a Mille Lacs Lake homicide investigation is now charged with the murder of a 25-year-old Isle man.

Thursday morning, prosecutors charged 21-year-old Bradley Weyaus with murder, two counts of interfering with a dead body and one count of fleeing police in connection to the case. Mille Lacs County Sheriff Kyle Burton confirms that a second person, a female suspect, was taken into custody in connection with the case later Thursday.

Burton says investigators had been looking for the woman for about 24 hours, and arrested her in the parking lot of an Onamia gas station following a traffic stop. He says charges likely won't be filed against the suspect until Monday.

On Wednesday, the Mille Lacs County Sheriff's Office said highway maintenance workers located human remains in a tote wrapped in bungee cords and industrial tape along the Mille Lacs Lake shoreline on March 21. According to a criminal complaint, one day before the remains were found the family of Rodney Pendegayosh Jr. had reported him missing and through the course of their investigation, police learned that Weyaus might've been involved.

"We didn't have any reason to think this was a random act of violence at all," Sheriff Burton told KARE 11. "There's a back story to this."

Burton did not elaborate on that back story or a possible motive for the slaying, saying only that the two men knew each other, and were familiar with each other. He plans to hold a press conference Monday and "connect the dots" on relationships between the victim and suspects, and why he may have been killed. 

While responding to the scene of the remains, officers saw a car that matched the description of Weyaus' vehicle, a white Saturn, driving in the same direction, the complaint said.

Police followed the Saturn to a rural property where they located Weyaus hiding in one of the buildings. Weyaus was arrested, and police found two duffel bags that had a hammer, hacksaw and industrial tape inside – tape that appeared to match the kind found on the container, prosecutors said. Investigators also found a spent shotgun shell inside the car.

An autopsy revealed that pellets from a shotgun shell were found inside Pendegayosh's throat. 

While searching the apartment where Weyaus had been staying, police noticed several areas of carpet were missing from the floor, the complaint said. In a nearby dumpster, they found trash bags filled with blood-stained pieces of carpet that matched the carpet in the apartment, an ID belonging to Pendegayosh, a hardware store receipt that included the purchase of a knife, tool sharpener, rubber gloves, a black mask and industrial tape, and empty 12 gauge shotgun shell boxes, according to the court documents.

Prosecutors allege that earlier in the week, Weyaus was seen transporting the bound storage container in an acquaintance's vehicle.

Credit: Mille Lacs Co. Sheriff
Prosecutors allege that Brad Weyaus was seen transporting the bound storage container in an acquaintance's vehicle. That container was found to hold a missing man's body.

According to the complaint, a preliminary investigation determined the container found by the maintenance workers held the body of the victim, whose foot had been severed. Investigators also matched remnants of carpet in the container to the carpet at Weyaus's apartment, along with items that were recorded on the hardware store receipt.

Tattoos on the body helped investigators make a preliminary identification of Rodney Pendegayosh Jr.; the medical examiner will make an official identification.

Weyaus remains in custody in the Mille Lacs County Jail.

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