Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom announced that Vern Jason Mouelle, age 23, of Brooklyn Park, was indicted* by a Dakota County Grand Jury today with two counts of First Degree Murder and two counts of Second Degree Murder. These counts involved the death of Senicha Marie Lessman, age 25, of Eagan, and her unborn child and relate to allegations of premeditated murder and murder with intent to kill.
Backstrom indicated that the law enforcement investigation in this case revealed the following:
Shortly before 3 p.m. on January 24, 2017, Ms. Lessman’s mother found her daughter naked, unconscious and unresponsive with a bloody cloth stuffed into her mouth in the bedroom of her daughter’s Eagan residence. Ms. Lessman’s mother called 911 and Eagan Police and paramedics responded. Officers observed what appeared to be a knife wound to Ms. Lessman’s neck. Officers and emergency medical personnel attempted to revive Ms. Lessman but were unsuccessful. Ms. Lessman was pronounced dead at the scene. Ms. Lessman was approximately 32 weeks pregnant, and her unborn child also died as a result of the injuries to Ms. Lessman.
Officers spoke to Ms. Lessman’s mother who identified Mouelle as the unborn child’s father. Officers also spoke to a neighbor who described a SUV that had been parked in the driveway earlier that day. Motor vehicle records revealed that a Mazda Tribute matching the description of the one observed by the neighbor was registered to Mouelle’s father. Officers located Mouelle and the vehicle at Mouelle’s place of employment. Officers obtained a search warrant for the vehicle and inside found a store receipt for a pocket knife that had been purchased earlier that day, empty packaging for the knife, Lessman’s cellphone, a bloody trashcan and bloody women’s clothing.
An autopsy was conducted by the Hennepin County Medical Examiner which revealed that Ms. Lessman died from a knife wound to her neck or obstruction of her airway.
A copy of the indictment and the previous criminal complaints can be found at Criminal Complaint Search. If in custody, a mug shot can be viewed at Inmate Search. Prior news release is available at County Attorney News Releases.
Backstrom commented: "These charges reflect allegations that this was a premeditated and intentional domestic-related homicide which tragically claimed the life of Senicha Lessman and her unborn child. Our deep sympathy is extended to the victim’s family and friends."
Backstrom thanked the Eagan Police Department and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension for their investigation into this matter and the Brooklyn Park Police Department and Mounds View Police Department who also assisted in this case.
Mouelle will make his first appearance on this indictment on Monday, February 27, 2017. At this time his bail remains in the amount of $2,000,000 without conditions ($1,500,000 with conditions) which was previously set by Dakota County District Court Judge Kathryn Messerich.
*Criminal charges are not evidence of guilt. A defendant/suspect is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.