MINNEAPOLIS — Minneapolis police have announced an arrest and the filing of charges in the 2015 killing of a well-known north Minneapolis artist and community activist.
On July 16, 2015, Minneapolis police were called to Susan Spiller's home on the 5100 block of Dupont Avenue North on a welfare check. They found signs of forced entry at the home and then discovered the 68-year-old's body.
The Hennepin County Medical Examiner determined Spiller died of "complex homicidal violence." No arrests were made in Spiller's death, and the case has remained open for the nearly four years since then.
On Tuesday, Minneapolis police announced that an 18-year-old suspect has been identified, arrested and charged.
Tom Arneson, Managing Attorney for the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office Juvenile Division, said the suspect was 14 years old "at the time of the murder." He said the suspect's age limits what information authorities can share.
"The break in this case came when fingerprints from the murder scene were found to match the suspect's," Arneson said. "That did not happen until just recently, and it came up after the suspect turned 18 and those fingerprints were taken in an unrelated case."
Mayor Jacob Frey spoke at the news conference, saying, "All victims deserve justice."
“Our officers are dogged and tenacious when it comes to solving these crimes, so I’m here to deliver a simple message to all of them," Frey said. "Thank you.”
Arneson said they filed second-degree murder charges in juvenile court, got an arrest warrant, and arrested the suspect on Monday. He is in custody at the juvenile detention center.
Even though he is now an adult, Arneson said because the suspect was a juvenile at the time of the alleged crime, the process will begin in juvenile court. It will remain private unless a judge orders that the suspect stand trial as an adult. Arneson said they have filed a motion for this, but the process can take months.
Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo thanked the team of investigators that "never lost their commitment to this case."
"Every death is heartbreaking and every homicide brings additional questions and the need for answers," he said. "The wait for justice can be long and difficult. The Spiller family and members of the community have waited almost four years.”
Spiller was known for making colorful jewelry and lamp shades featuring pieces of melted glass fused together. She also taught glass art classes at local shops.
Duane Atter, a close friend of Spiller's, remembered her as a truly talented artist and devoted friend.
"She was the kindest, most generous soul," he said.
News of an arrest brought a mix of emotions.
"I had so much reactions," Atter said. "I'm glad the family can finally move on."
Spiller served on the board of the Lind-Bohanon Neighborhood Association, and helped create the Lind Community Garden just down the street from her home. She was also active in the Northside Arts Collective, an organization that promotes the work of local artists.
On Tuesday, Chief Arradondo said, "While her death shocked many, it was Susan Spiller’s life and spirit that has inspired her community and our entire city of Minneapolis."
Back in 2017, Duane Atter told KARE 11, "Whoever took her from us really took a lot out of this neighborhood and gave us a gut-punch that we really have not recovered from yet."
Arneson said the suspect's first court appearance was Tuesday afternoon.
"We will take it step by step and we will do our best to ensure that justice is served," Arneson said.