(LITTLE FALLS, Minn.) — The Minnesota teens killed on Thanksgiving Day while breaking into a home have been linked to an earlier robbery, authorities said on Wednesday.
Six bottles of prescription drugs and other items reported stolen on Sunday from a home in Little Falls, Minn., were found in a red Mitsubishi Eclipse that was being driven by Haile Kifer, 18, and Nicholas Brady, 17, according to the Morrison County Sheriff’s Office.
Sheriff Michel Wetzel said the night before the teens were shot to death, authorities responded to a report of a red car parked suspiciously at the end of a driveway in Little Falls Township.
Officers encountered Brady, who told them Kifer had gone to get gas after the teens ran out while driving around town. The car was left at the location and deputies gave Brady a ride to Little Falls, Wetzel said.
The next day, the teens allegedly broke into the home of Byron Smith, 64, and were shot to death.
Smith, who told police he had been burglarized in the past, admitted he fired “more shots than I needed,” according to a criminal complaint. He was charged with two counts of second degree murder on Monday and has not yet entered a plea.
Wetzel said, “A person has every right to defend themselves and their homes, even employing deadly force if necessary.”
In this case, however, authorities said they believe Smith crossed the line.
Smith told police he was sitting in his basement on Nov. 22 — Thanksgiving Day — when he heard a window break upstairs and then footsteps, according to the complaint.
He first saw the feet, then the legs, then the hips of the intruder coming down the basement stairs. Smith said he believed he fired twice at Brady with a Ruger Mini-14 rifle, according to the complaint. Smith told police he then dragged the body on a tarp to his basement workshop.
Several minutes later, he told police, he heard more footsteps and waited until he saw Kifer’s hips as she descended the staircase.
“After shooting the person, she tumbled down the steps,” according to the complaint. “Smith stated that he tried to shoot her again with the Mini-14 but the gun jammed.”
Smith told police Kifer laughed at him, describing it as a short laugh because she was in pain. But he said it “made him upset,” the complaint said.
“If you’re trying to shoot somebody and they laugh at you, you go again,” he told police, according to the complaint.
As Kifer gasped for air, Smith dragged her body next to Brady’s, according to the complaint, and placed a handgun under her chin and fired what he told police was a “good clean finishing shot” that went “under her chin up into the cranium.”
Smith kept the bodies in his home overnight, police said, and called neighbors on Friday, asking if they knew any lawyers. When the neighbors said they did not, Smith asked them to call authorities, according to the complaint.
Police responded to the call on Friday and Smith led them to the teens’ bodies.
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