ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) - Two men have been charged for second degree murder in the beating death of a 79-year-old St. Paul woman earlier this month.
Friends found the victim, identified as Myong Ki Gossel, dead in her home on the 2300 block of Nokomis Avenue on Jan. 4. They had gone to check on her after not hearing from her for several days. Her death was initially considered suspicious, but was later ruled a homicide.
When they arrived, they noticed the mail hadn’t been collected, the front door was slightly ajar and her home had been ransacked. They found Gossel’s “bruised and battered partially clothed body in the basement laundry room area,” and then called police. Medics pronounced her dead at the scene.
The friends told police that Gossel had work done on her trees and around her home last summer and that the workers, identified as Kevin Reek, 46, and Richard Joles, 29, “did not seem to be legitimate and did shoddy work,” the charges said.
They said Gossel mentioned that the workers returned around Christmas and stole money from her. However, she didn’t report the incident to police because they didn’t hurt her.
Gossel had reportedly hired Joles for a number of jobs over the past few months, including cutting trees and working on a retaining wall.
Joles' girlfriend confirmed to police he had returned to do some work for Gossel over Christmas. Joles had been planning on working for Gossel on New Year's Day and Reek, who had been at his house the night before, decided to tag along.
According to the complaint, the two headed to St. Paul around noon on Jan. 1. Joles called his girlfriend several times while en route and said that Reek was acting strangely. The next day, Joles called and asked her to pick him up “because Reek was acting crazy.”
Joles told her that Reek wanted to talk to Gossel by himself and take her money. Joles liked Gossel as a friend and told Reek he couldn't rob her and wanted to leave.
The next morning, Joles and another friend went to Gossel’s home because she owed him money for previous work. They got $350 from her.
However, Joles told Reek that they were there to see if any work needed to be done, and that Gossel told them no. Reek said didn’t believe that there wasn’t any work to be done.
They decided to return to Gossel’s house. But first, they went to a store because Reek wanted to buy a shovel. Joles then drove past the house to show Reek, who then began to “talk crazy,” telling Joles to go to her house first, and that he would follow. Reek told Joles to put on gloves. Reek wanted to be dropped off in the alley where he would pretend to be shoveling snow.
So, Joles dropped off Reek and drove around the block. Joles realized it was a bad idea, so he honked the horn and Reek returned to the truck.
Later, Reek continued to call Joles’ friend and accused the two of cheating him, saying he believed they got money from Gossel. He demanded money and threatened to kill him if he didn’t get it.
Reek also called Joles’ girlfriend. He was upset and said that Joles had “’screwed him’” on the job, leaving him stranded with no money or place to stay. He said they “‘[expletive] him out of $16,000’” and said he was going to get Joles back for not paying him.
Reek called the girlfriend again and said Joles will be dead and said, “‘I killed the old woman. She’s no good no more. Now everyone is going down for this.’”
While in custody, Joles was shown a photo of Gossel and said he didn’t remember working for her, but he may have. When he was shown a photo of the house, he said it looked vaguely familiar and asked if the woman was OK.
He was then shown a photo of Gossel’s bruised face and was told evidence belonging to him was recovered at the scene. He said he knew she was beaten to death, though the officers had not told him how she died.
Reek was arrested in Illinois on Jan. 12 on a probation violation out of Tennessee. In October 2007, Reek and two others tied up, beat and robbed an elderly couple in their home.
Joles is in Hennepin County jail on an out-of-state warrant.
Both men are charged with multiple counts of second degree murder.