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Two men charged for death of elderly East Side woman
Two men have been charged in the beating death of an elderly East Side widow.
The 79-year-old woman, Myong Gi Gossel, was found dead in her home, located at 2343 Nokomis Ave., on the East Side, by friends on Jan. 4.
Richard Daniel Thomas Joles, 29, of Houston, Texas, and Kevin Reek, 46, have both been charged with two counts of murder in the second degree. If convicted, each count carries up to a 40-year sentence.
Reek did not have a permanent address listed on the criminal complaint.
Bail for both has been set at $1 million, although only Joles was being held in the Ramsey County jail last week. Joles was arrested Jan. 3 in Hennepin County for an out-of-state warrant and was transferred to the Ramsey County jail Jan. 30.
Reek was arrested Jan. 12 in Illinois for violating probation and is currently awaiting extradition to Minnesota.
Both men have records for previous crimes. Reek was convicted of aggravated burglary, robbery, kidnapping and assault back in 2009 for beating and robbing an elderly couple in Kentucky.
Joles had been charged in Madison County, Ill., over a year ago for aggravated home repair fraud.
Yard work, easy cash
Friends of the victim, who was a native of Korea, said they went to check on her because they had not heard from her since Jan. 1, which they said was odd because they usually talked on the phone every day.
When they showed up at her house on Jan. 4 at about 4:15 p.m., they found her mail had not been collected and her front door was slightly ajar.
When they entered the home, they found it “ransacked” and discovered Gossel’s body “bruised and battered” and partially clothed in the basement laundry room.
Police do not have an exact time of death, but say that it happened between Jan. 2 and Jan. 4, as the victim’s mail carrier noticed she did not pick up her mail on Jan. 3 and it was still in her mailbox the next day, which was unusual.
The Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled Gossel’s death a homicide due to head trauma, marking it as St. Paul’s first homicide in 2017.
When police processed Gossel’s home, they reportedly found fingerprints on a jewelry box that were matched to Joles.
The criminal complaint said Gossel had first come into contact with Joles during the summer of 2016 when she had hired him to do some tree trimming, sod and retaining wall work.
Gossel’s friends said the workers “did not seem to be legitimate and did shoddy work.”
A hazy story
During a police interrogation, Joles reportedly said it was “easy” to get money from Gossel and said that at one time she had paid him $9,000 in cash for his work, $3,000 via check and another $1,500 at a different time.
Police spoke with Joles’ female friend, who said Joles called her multiple times in early January while he was en route to Minnesota with Reek. The woman told police that Joles described Reek as “acting weird.”
At one point Joles told the friend that Reek put on gloves and a nylon stocking over his head.
She said Joles wanted her to pick him because Reek became angry with him after he said he didn’t want to rob Gossel. The woman said Joles told her that he eventually met up with a different friend and left Reek “to his own devices.”
She said Reek later called her several times and claimed Joles had “screwed him” on the job at Gossel’s home, and was upset and had threatened Joles’ life.
According to the criminal complaint, at one point Reek told the female friend, “I killed the old woman. She’s no good no more. Now everyone is going down for this.”
New Year’s drive to Minnesota
Joles claimed that he and his cousin met up with Reek in Indiana sometime around Jan. 1 and drove to Minnesota together in Reek’s truck. Joles claimed he was coming to the Twin Cities to turn himself in on his Minnesota arrest warrant.
At first Joles denied coming to Minnesota with Reek, but later admitted to it, the complaint said.
Surveillance video at the SuperAmerica gas station, 1850 Old Hudson Road, shows Reek and Joles’ cousin in the convenience store on Jan. 2 and getting into a silver Ford pickup, which Joles later identified as Reek’s truck.
In addition, there is surveillance footage of Reek and Joles’ cousin at a Kwik Trip gas station in Baldwin, Wisconsin, with the same pickup truck on Jan. 2. There is also a photo from the victim’s neighbor’s surveillance camera of the Ford pickup, which Joles also identified.
When police asked Joles why he brought Reek along, he claimed it was “to do the job.” He reportedly said he had already “tapped” the victim many times for money, and he thought a new face would make it easier to get more money. He added that Reek had called him saying he needed money, so Joles told him about Gossel.
Joles allegedly told police that as they were driving from Indiana to Minnesota, Reek started talked about tying people up and robbing them. Joles, his cousin and Reek stopped at a truck stop. While Reek went into the truck stop, Joles and his cousin took Reek’s truck and went to a friend’s house. They allegedly decided to go back and get him because they were afraid he would kill them if they did not return his truck. When they picked Reek back up, he wanted to go to a dollar store to get a shovel. Joles also told police Reek was high on drugs.
Initially, Joles said he drove Reek past the victim’s house, dropped him off, but became nervous and picked Reek back up.
When pressed by police, Joles admitted he and his cousin went to Gossel’s home during the morning of Jan. 2.
Investigators from St. Paul police went to speak with Reek, but he denied ever being in Minnesota. Reek said he wouldn’t speak without a lawyer present and the interview was ended.
They have obtained a warrant for Reek’s truck and items from the truck are currently being analyzed by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.
Marjorie Otto can be reached at 651-748-7816 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @EastSideM_Otto.