ANOKA, Minn. (KMSP) - The Anoka County Attorney’s Office has filed murder charges in this week’s death of a 95-year-old Anoka man. Isaiah Montrell Thomas, 27, of Anoka is charged with two counts of second-degree murder in the death of Al Lohlein.
“This is an offense where everyone is outraged and frustrated at the senseless killing of an elderly gentleman,” said Anoka County Attorney Tony Palumbo. “The killer showed no mercy to the victim. The state will show no mercy to the killer.”
Thomas made his first court appearance Friday morning, with bail set at $2 million. His next court appearance is scheduled for Dec. 15.
Loehlein was found murdered in his home on the 1200 block of 5th Avenue South around 10:45 a.m. on Monday after a family member stopped by to deliver groceries. The sheriff’s office said Lohlein was last seen alive by his family on Thanksgiving when they dropped him off at his home.
Fingerprint leads to suspect
According to the criminal complaint, it appeared Loehlein had been beaten to death, with severe injuries to his head and face. The medical examiner preliminarily indicated he had been dead for at least one day, and more likely two days by the he was found.
Crime scene investigators found a fingerprint on a small wooden box. Forensic analysis of the print, and a comparison of law enforcement databases led to a match of Thomas. According to the charges, there is no evidence that anyone else was involved the burglary or murder.
Detectives then learned that Thomas had pawned a small mantle clock at Excel Pawn in Maplewood on Nov. 27. Officers recovered the clock, which family members identified as belonging to Al Loehlein. Family members also reported two pocket watches had been stolen from the home, and a gold pocket watch was found on Thomas when Thomas was arrested on Nov. 30.
You'll see it on the news
When investigators interviewed a friend of Thomas, he recalled Thomas saying, “s---, man, I f---ed up...that old man… you’ll see it (on the news).” The friend told police that Thomas planned to flee to California.
Police: Suspect looked for 'easy target'
Cmdr. Paul Sommer of the Anoka County Sheriff’s office said based on early evidence, it appears the suspect was looking for an easy target.
“He lives alone and someone took advantage of that fact and this gentleman paid the price with his life,” said Cmdr. Sommer.
Loehlein’s nephew, Bart Ward, said Loehlein has lived in the home alone since his wife died about 10 years ago. He described Loehlein as young-hearted and dapper.
“If you looked up the word gentleman in the dictionary, that was Al,” said Ward. “95 going on 75. Probably looked ten or 15 years younger than he was.”
Suspect's criminal history
Thomas has a criminal history that dates back to his teen years. He was charged and convicted as an adult for an attempted burglary in 2005.
In the years that followed, his criminal history included theft, burglary and domestic violence convictions.
Most recently, he was charged with credit card fraud. He was working at a Wendy’s in Rogers when he stole credit card information from a drive through customer.
In April of 2016, he was charged with burglary. According to court documents, a St. Paul woman came home to find Thomas taking a laptop and speakers from her home. He was arrested five minutes later attempting to burglarize another home in the neighborhood.