Woman stabbed, strangled 76-year-old man in Faribault home: Charges

Rice County prosecutors filed murder charges against a 32-year-old woman for allegedly stabbing and strangling a 76-year-old man to death in his Faribault home.

Arlene Bell is facing a new charge of second-degree murder in connection to the death of Gary Lehmeyer. Prosecutors charged her earlier this month with one count of motor vehicle theft after she was pulled over in Iowa while driving a vehicle that was suspected to be stolen from the victim's house.

According to court records, Faribault police responded to a welfare check on Feb. 5 and found Lehmeyer dead inside his home. Authorities said his feet and neck were bound with a black power cord, and he was wrapped in sheets, blankets, and a heated mattress pad.

The medical examiner’s preliminary autopsy report ruled his manner of death as a homicide and his cause of death from "ligature strangulation and multiple sharp force injuries," charges said. 

At the scene, law enforcement observed what appeared to be blood spatters on the bedroom walls and bloody footprints on the floor, in addition to other blood evidence. Lehmeyer’s vehicle was also missing from the residence. 

That same day, an Iowa State Patrol Trooper spotted the vehicle in Des Moines and pulled over the driver, identified as Bell. Charges say she acknowledged the vehicle was not hers and claimed to be heading to Mexico. 

The trooper said the trip seemed "sudden and unplanned," and she appeared to be under the influence of narcotics. During a search of the vehicle, the trooper allegedly found drug paraphernalia. She was arrested and remains in custody at Dallas County Jail in Iowa, charges said. 

According to the Rice County Attorney’s Office, Bell lived with Lehmeyer at the time of the incident. She explained to authorities she heard something fall on the floor and went into the bedroom and noticed what appeared to be red bullets at Lehmeyer’s feet.

Bell said she did not see any guns but was scared, as he wouldn’t let her leave the room. She claimed a physical fight broke out. However, the 76-year-old had Parkinson’s dementia and was physically unable to walk without help at that time, according to court records. 

Bell allegedly admitted to stabbing Lehmeyer, but could not remember how many times. After the attack, Bell bound the 76-year-old, took a shower and left in his vehicle, charges allege. 

In Friday’s press release, Rice County Attorney’s Office says the extradition process for Bell should start in the coming days. A court date in Minnesota has not yet been set.