Overdose may be motive in death of man found in storage container near Mille Lacs Lake: Sheriff

Investigators believe an overdose death could be the motive for the fatal shooting of a man whose body was found inside a storage container near the shore of Mille Lacs Lake.

Sheriff’s Kyle Burton held a press conference on Tuesday providing an update on the death investigation of Rodney Pendegayosh Jr., 25, including the possible motive for his killing. 

Two people have already been arrested and charged in connection to the case. Bradley Weyaus Jr., 21, faces charges of second-degree murder, concealing a body, concealing evidence and fleeing police in a vehicle. Alexis Elling, 21, was charged with aiding an offender–accomplice after the fact.

The possible motive 

Investigators believe the motive for Pendegayosh’s death stems from an incident on Jan. 10, 2023, in which Alexis’ brother Brandon died from an overdose of fentanyl and methamphetamine.

Burton said witnesses mentioned Pendegayosh’s name to law enforcement as possibly being involved in the overdose, but authorities have not been able to confirm the information. 

The overdose death was an open investigation before Pendegayosh was found dead and authorities are trying to figure out who is responsible for selling Brandon the drugs. 

The overdose investigation is ongoing but is separate from Pendegayosh’s death investigation.

Investigation update 

The sheriff’s office provided additional information about the homicide investigation in what Burton called one of the strangest of his career. 

"In 23 years of law enforcement I’ve never seen something like this," Burton said.   

One of the most unusual aspects of the case is the location where the body was discovered was not where the container was initially placed. 

"This whole thing is truly bizarre in that it sounds like from all accounts this body was moved multiple places, for a period of possibly up to a week, before the discovery was made," Burton said. "Definitely not a typical homicide case." 

While no exact timeline has been given for Pendegayosh’s death, Burton said there is surveillance video from a business on March 19 showing what appears to be Weyaus and Elling carrying a storage container, a few days before the body was found. Authorities also said it’s possible the container was at Elling’s place for at least a day. 

As part of the investigation, the BCA seized two vehicles believed to be involved, including Elling’s roommate’s vehicle and Weyaus's car. 

Law enforcement has executed several search warrants in the case including searching a residence for the firearm believed to have been used in Pendegayosh's death. However, the shot gun was not recovered and authorities have still not located it. 

However, investigators are analyzing cell phones and Facebook accounts in connection to the March death investigation and in connection to the January overdose. They are also analyzing a week's worth of surveillance video from a nearby business which they say could take some time. 

When asked if additional people could be charged in the case Burton said it’s possible. 

"Depending on what we learn from the cellphone dumps and Facebook dumps it is entirely possible there could be other people implicated in this too."