Three teens appear in court in Willmar grandmother murder case
WILLMAR -- Three Willmar teenagers made separate appearances Friday in Kandiyohi County District Court on murder charges relating to the strangulation and stabbing death of Lila Mae Warwick, 79, of Willmar.
Judge Michael J. Thompson set unconditional bail at $2 million and conditional bail at $1 million for Brok Nathaniel Junkermeier, 19. Junkermeier is charged with second-degree murder with intent-not premeditated. Thompson set the bail amount due to the risk to public safety and because Junkermeier was considered a possible flight risk.
Junkermeier appeared wearing an orange jumpsuit and was in restraints. He did not have an attorney and Judge Thompson granted the defendant's application for a public defender.
Kandiyohi County Attorney Jennifer Fischer said Friday that her office has turned prosecution of the Junkermeier case over to the Minnesota Attorney General's Office. But Fischer said her office will continue to prosecute the other two teens, Devon James Jenkins, 16, and Robert Inocencio Warwick, 17.
In separate hearings, Judge Donald Spilseth ordered Jenkins and Warwick to continue to be held at Prairie Lakes Youth Program detention center in Willmar. The juveniles were also in restraints.
A hearing to certify Jenkins to stand trial as an adult will be held Aug. 29 and a similar hearing will be held Aug. 30 for Warwick.
Both are charged with second-degree murder with intent-not premeditated and liability for crimes of another.
The juvenile delinquency petition filed against Robert Warwick states he was the mastermind of the plan to rob and kill Lila Warwick, his grandmother, and believed she had a safe in the house with access to $40,000.
Matthew Frank, assistant attorney general, told the court the attack was cold-blooded.
Bradley Junkermeier, Brok Junkermeier's father, issued a statement to reporters after his son's appearance.
"My family and I want to convey our deepest, deepest sympathy condolences to the victims, friends and family for this horrific catastrophe,'' he said.
Police discovered body
The petition says the sheriff's office received a call at 5:09 p.m. Monday to check on Lila Warwick, who lived alone at 3079 Highway 12 E. She did not arrive at church for a 3:30 p.m. meeting, which was uncharacteristic of her.
Deputies saw the windows and doors to the property were secure. They called Robert Warwick and received the overhead garage door code, making entry. There, they discovered the body of Lila Warwick.
Investigators saw the computer was on with a login screen to U.S. Bank and information containing Lila Warwick's name still visible on the screen.
The preliminary autopsy by the Midwest Medical Examiner's Office indicated Warwick died from stabbing and strangulation.
Court documents say Warwick's daughter, Cheri Ekbom, told authorities that Robert Warwick had grown distant from his grandmother and believed she was trying to help her grandson with drug issues.
Ekbom indicated that Robert Warwick had texted her daughter, indicating he "hated grandma,'' could not stand her and at one point asked how much money he would get if Warwick were to die. She believed the text message was sent around Easter weekend.
Documents state a deputy met Tuesday with an adult male identified as "A'' who said he was at a friend's house 30 to 45 days earlier and met with Junkermeier. He said Junkermeier admitted he, Robert Warwick and another juvenile had plans to kill Warwick's grandmother and take her money.
The adult male reported that Junkermeier had said he planned to use a sword to kill Lila Warwick. The adult male initially thought Junkermeier was joking, but he came forward when he learned of the murder.
A sheriff's deputy talked Wednesday to another adult identified as "B" who reported that he had known Junkermeier since he was 4 years old, spoke regularly with him and considered him a friend. He said Junkermeier and Robert Warwick often hung out together. He said he had heard Junkermeier talk about a plan to kill Lila Warwick on several occasions, but also didn't believe he was serious.
After learning Tuesday that Lila Warwick had been killed, adult male "B'' talked to Junkermeier at his workplace. The complaint states Junkermeier talked for two hours and offered details of the burglary and murder.
Victim was ambushed
Adult male "B" said Junkermeier had been told by Robert Warwick that his grandmother got her mail at about 6:30 a.m. The complaint says Junkermeier and Jenkins arrived by car at Lila Warwick's home at 4 a.m. and Junkermeier used a key he had obtained to gain entry through the back garage door.
When Lila Warwick entered the garage, the complaint states, she noticed a masked Junkermeier near the steps and tried to get to the door. Junkermeier struck her hand with a knife, causing her to bleed on the floor. Junkermeier directed her to her computer and told her write a $1,500 check on her U.S. Bank account, which she did.
Junkermeier then wrapped bandaging on Lila Warwick's hand so she could type on the computer. The complaint states he then choked her, stabbed her multiple times and brought or threw her into the basement. He discarded the weapon, his footwear, the mask and gloves.
Junkermeier deposited the check into his Bremer Bank account, with the guarantee Robert Warwick would receive $700. At 2 p.m. Monday, Junkermeier and Robert Warwick went to Lila Warwick's home to take valuables and obtained a small safe.
Junkermeier was apprehended without incident Wednesday while working at the West Central Tribune, where he was employed in the mailroom. He confirmed many of the details authorities had learned from adult male "B" and provided information on the location of the weapon used to stab Lila Warwick.
Devon Jenkins was interviewed Wednesday and Robert Warwick was interviewed Thursday. Both confirmed Junkermeier's involvement.
Jenkins was interviewed and admitted being with Junkermeier early Monday morning and fell asleep in Junkermeier's car near a residence just outside Willmar. Junkermeier returned to the car and said that he killed "R.W.'s grandmother,'' according to the complaint.
Jenkins also said he was aware that Junkermeier may have had a mask when he went into the residence and that he was going to kill the woman. Jenkins denied any involvement in planning the robbery and murder.
Robert Warwick was interviewed and admitted he had discussed a plan with Junkermeier for Junkermeier to rob and assault Lila Warwick and force her to write him a check. Warwick indicated he was aware that Junkermeier was going to rob and assault his grandmother, but he maintained that he was not expecting Junkermeier to kill his grandmother.
Robert Warwick said he was actually to receive $300 from the robbery, but he never received the money.
The complaint also states Junkermeier gave a ride to an unidentified juvenile. The juvenile told an investigator that Junkermeier displayed his bloody palm and an approximately 20-inch knife covered in blood.