The 2015 murder of a rural Minnesota farmer in his home that was solved with the help of a 100-year-old family Bible is sparking renewed interest.
Earl Olander, 90, was found murdered with his hands bound behind his back with duct tape in his San Francisco Township home on April 11, 2015, a murder that stumped investigators for weeks amid little evidence. and few clues.
“You’re always looking for that nugget, that one thing that lets you crack the case,” Jim Olson, a retired Carver County Sheriff’s Office deputy who worked on the investigation, told “20/20,” which will feature the case in a Friday night episode.
Olander also suffered several blunt force injuries to his head and other parts of his body, TwinCities.com reported.
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With investigators still trying to figure out who was responsible, someone called the police almost a month after the murder to report that they had found a Bible inside an apartment that he was paid to clean. In the book were savings bonds with Olander’s name on them.
When the informant looked up the name online, he found that Olander had been murdered. The holy book was a Norwegian Bible and belonged to the Olander family.
Investigators soon turned their attention to the resident of the apartment where it had been found, Edson Benítez. He initially told detectives that the book had been given to him by a friend who had moved to Mexico. He soon admitted that his friend Reinol Vergara, Olander’s house painter, knew that the farmer had a lot of money.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials had placed detainers on both suspects, meaning they were suspected of being illegal immigrants, Fox Minneapolis reported at the time. .
Benítez said he waited in a car while Vergara went into the house with a duffel bag and duct tape. Minutes later, they asked him to come in and he saw Olander with his face covered and tied with tape. As he struggled to the ground, Vergara allegedly struck Olander with a gun, Benitez told investigators.
Vergara claimed a third person was involved, but investigators ruled that out and phone records located both men at the crime scene.
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“There were a lot of allegations in this case,” Olson said.
The couple was charged with murder and other crimes. They pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting second-degree murder and were sentenced in 2016 to 37 years in prison.