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Two Harbors man arrested in stabbing death of woman

EVELETH -- A 28-year-old Two Harbors man -- who police believe stabbed a woman more than 20 times at her Eveleth workplace -- is being held in the St. Louis County Jail on a preliminary charge of second-degree murder.

Jesaiah Lee Carlson was arrested at a relative's home in Two Harbors about 8:42 p.m. Monday.

Eveleth Police Chief Brian Lillis held a news conference at Eveleth City Hall Tuesday to announce that authorities have probable cause to believe Carlson killed Megan Ashley Anderson, 20, of Cook while she worked at Durkee Signs & Graphics on Aug. 29.

Lillis declined to comment specifically on what led authorities to Carlson or what evidence has been gathered against the defendant. He said the defendant has talked to investigators, but the police chief wouldn't elaborate.

"The only comment we can make at this point is that we have investigated this case to a point where we have probable cause to arrest Mr. Carlson,'' Lillis said. "At this point, the county attorney's office will review the case and will act accordingly. We're assuming that a criminal complaint [for second-degree murder] will be filed in this matter tomorrow."

St. Louis County prosecutor Gordon Coldagelli said it was too early to comment on whether he will convene a grand jury to seek a first-degree murder indictment.

Greg Durkee, owner of Durkee Signs and Graphics in Eveleth, said he found Anderson's body on the floor near a table at the center of the room when he returned to the business about 1 p.m. the day of the crime.

He had last seen her alive about 10:20 a.m., he said. Durkee Signs is in the Arrowhead Heating and Cooling Building.

Durkee said he hired Anderson about three months ago. "Megan was a very quiet gal of few words, but she was a very good worker, very reliable, there on time every day and very trustworthy," Durkee said Tuesday.

"I feel relieved that they finally caught somebody," he said. "It's just hard to imagine that someone could do such a thing to such a nice, innocent girl."

Lillis said no motive for the crime has been "clearly determined." He said authorities have reason to believe that the victim was either sexually assaulted or a sexual assault was attempted. He said there is no evidence that Carlson had any prior contact with the victim.

The police chief said Anderson's slaying is the first homicide in this Iron Range town of 3,865 since 1998.

Carlson was employed as a salesman for Allstar Advertising of Duluth. A telephone message left at Allstar's office seeking Carlson's work history there wasn't returned Tuesday. Carlson has three misdemeanor theft convictions in St. Louis County and several traffic violations.

Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension Special Agent Paul Gherardi, who works out of his agency's Grand Rapids field office, said Carlson and another Allstar salesperson were selling cutting boards and children's books in the Eveleth-Gilbert area the day of the murder.

They traveled to the area in one car and then would divide up the sales territory to cover. Gherardi said the other sales person has been cooperating with the investigation and is not a suspect in the crime.

Collected evidence has been sent to the BCA crime lab for analysis, Lillis said.

Lillis said dozens of people were interviewed and hundreds of leads were followed with as many as two dozen investigators from his department, the BCA, St. Louis County Sheriff's Office, Virginia, Gilbert and Hibbing police departments, the Boundary Waters Drug Task Force and the St. Louis County Rescue Squad among the agencies assisting with the investigation.

Lillis and Gherardi said they are seeking the public's help in locating a pink Motorola Razr cell phone that belonged to Anderson, a men's long necktie and a folding knife that could have been disposed of in the area.

Gherardi said the knife is believed to be the murder weapon. Anyone having information about any of the items is asked to call investigators at (218) 749-6010or (218) 744-7560.