Autopsy: Maple Grove ‘cold case’ ruled a homicide

A second, independent autopsy has found a Maple Grove teenager’s death in 2009 was a homicide.

Robbie Anderson, 19, died from "blunt force trauma to the head and neck," according to two independent forensic pathologists who conducted the second autopsy after Anderson’s body was exhumed in November.

The Hennepin County Medical Examiner was unable to determine a manner or cause of death in 2009 and called it a "sudden unexplained death."

For their new analysis, the two independent forensic pathologists – Dr. Alecia Wilson and Dr. Amanda Youmans -- conducted additional testing on Anderson’s remains, as well as a posterior neck dissection and spinal cord exam, that were not done during the original autopsy.

The original autopsy in 2009 was conducted by Dr. Dennis Fircau, a training fellow now with the University of Iowa, under the supervision of assistant Hennepin County Medical Examiner Dr. Owen Middleton. 

Dr. Middleton was present for the second autopsy conducted in November by Drs. Wilson and Youmans.

"Open and Active"

The new autopsy results were given this week to Maple Grove Police who said Anderson’s death "remains an open and active case."

"Our agency will communicate with the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office about the second autopsy report," said a statement from the Maple Grove Police Department.

The Hennepin County Medical Examiner has said in a previous statement that if additional evidence "points to a more clear cause or manner of death" the death certificate could be changed.

Robbie Anderson’s mother, Sandy Cikotte Anderson, has been working for several years with cold case investigator Sheila Potocnik, to uncover new details about how her son died.

"We are currently waiting and praying that our son, Rob, will receive justice," Sandy Cikotte Anderson said in a statement to the FOX 9 Investigators.

Cikotte Anderson said she is hoping the Hennepin County Attorney will review her son’s case and move forward with charges, "regardless of what the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office ultimately decides to do or not do."

The criminal investigation was reopened shortly after the FOX 9 Investigators began reporting on the case in 2019, a decade after Anderson’s death.

Robbie Anderson (Supplied)

A Basement ‘Party’ for Three

Anderson died around in the early morning hours of December 4, 2009, after partying and doing shots of vodka with two friends he knew since middle school, Paul Leclerc and Matt Stouten.

The three were in the basement of Leclerc’s home, while his parents were sleeping upstairs when his two friends said Anderson suddenly stopped breathing.

A bizarre and confusing 911 call was made at 3:30 a.m. when Leclerc told the dispatcher Anderson "fell out of his chair and stopped breathing."

Leclerc then told the dispatcher he would carry Anderson’s body to the street corner to meet the ambulance, so they wouldn’t wake up his parents upstairs.  The dispatcher told them to remain at the house.

The first officer on the scene noticed Anderson was blue in the face, was not breathing, and had no pulse.

The officer also noted Anderson had "two black eyes," and "bruising down the side of his nose," as well as "blood on his upper lip and in his nostrils."

Anderson’s pants were unbuttoned, unzipped, and six inches below his waist, according to police reports. 

"I killed, Rob"

Police arrested Leclerc that night, and while alone in the squad car, after trying to kick out the squad car doors, Leclerc made a startling statement caught on video. 

"Oh my God, I killed Rob," Leclerc screamed. 

In subsequent interviews with Maple Grove detectives, Leclerc and Scouton, would offer various, and sometimes conflicting, accounts of what happened.

Both would admit to "messing" with Anderson after he passed out, including pestering him and piling items on top of him.

Scouton told police Leclerc, who weighed more than 300 lbs., was punching and slapping Anderson to wake him up.

At one point, they carried him into the laundry room thinking he needed to vomit. Scouton said Leclerc smacked him a couple more times in the head.

Crime scene photos show Anderson’s blood on the bed and in the sink and floor of the laundry room. 

Asked by a detective during an interrogation why there is blood on the bedsheets, Leclerc said, "I was just trying to wake him up." 

The detective asked, "Punching him like pretty hard?"

"I was just trying to wake him up," Leclerc responded.

Manslaughter Charges Declined

Maple Grove Police submitted the case in 2010 to the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office for manslaughter charges.

But Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Chuck Weber declined to file criminal charges because the medical examiner could not determine the cause and manner of Anderson’s death. 

Weber wrote that Leclerc’s statement in the back of the squad car, "could be interpreted either as expressions of concern or as expressions of guilt."

According to the original autopsy report, Anderson’s blood alcohol level was .152 and wasn’t considered life-threatening.  And while there were blunt force injuries to his head, the medical examiner determined the injury wasn’t likely enough to be fatal. 

Suspicious death, standard autopsy

The FOX 9 Investigators have learned the doctors who performed the second autopsy found a disconnect between the original autopsy report and the narrative of the police reports. 

The forensic pathologists believe the original autopsy was standard, and not what would be expected in a suspicious death, the FOX 9 Investigators have learned.

The second autopsy on Anderson’s remains included a posterior neck dissection and spinal cord exam that were not conducted in the original autopsy.

The second autopsy concludes it is likely Anderson died in the laundry room, the FOX 9 Investigators have learned.

"When will this end?"

It wasn’t the first time a young man found trouble in that Maple Grove basement.

Connor Lilly, a friend of Anderson’s, told the FOX 9 Investigators he was assaulted in the same home by the same two friends – Leclerc and Scouton – three years before Anderson’s death.

Lilly said he was 15 years old at the time and was doing shots of vodka.  Leclerc and Scouton were a couple of years older but still underage. 

"They just progressively kept messing with me like throwing items on me, like clothes, or like pouring water on my head," Lilly told the FOX 9 Investigators. 

"I’m like, oh my god, when will this end?" he recalled. 

"And they restrained me and like, laying on me," Lilly said. 

"And then they’re covering my mouth and pushing what I believe to be a sock in my mouth," he said.

Lilly said they also took his phone so he couldn’t call his mother to leave.  Eventually, he says, they passed out and he got a ride home in the morning.

"It was just a terrible experience," he said. 

There was another young man who appears to have had a similar experience. 

Video posted on Leclerc’s Facebook page showed an unidentified young man, who appears intoxicated, trying to stand up.  He has vulgar slurs and a swastika scrawled on his body. 

The video was posted on Facebook a few months before Anderson died.

Lilly said he is coming forward now because he believes it may help explain what happened to Anderson.

"I know he was eventually going to do something really good with his life," Lilly said. "I miss him every day."