Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom announced that Vern Jason Mouelle, age 23, of Brooklyn Park, has been charged* with one count of Murder in the Second Degree (With Intent) and one count of Murder of an Unborn Child in the Second Degree (With Intent) in connection with the deaths of Senicha Marie Lessman, age 25, of Eagan, and her unborn child.
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.
Officers spoke to Ms. Lessman’s mother who identified Mouelle as the unborn child’s father. Officers also spoke to a neighbor who described an 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 mother. 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. This matter remains under investigation.
Additional facts pertaining to this case can be found in the criminal complaint, which is located online at: http://www.co.dakota.mn.us/LawJustice/CriminalComplaint/Pages/default.aspx. While in custody, a mug shot can be viewed online at: Inmate Search.
Backstrom commented: “This was a violent attack that has resulted in the senseless and tragic deaths of a young woman and her unborn child. Our deepest sympathy is expressed to the family and friends of Senicha Lessman.” Backstrom thanked the Eagan Police Department for their investigation into this matter and Mounds View Police for their assistance in arresting Mouelle.
Mouelle made his first appearance in court today and bail in the amount of $2,000,000 without conditions ($1,500,000 with conditions) was set by Dakota County District Court Judge Kathryn Messerich. Mouelle’s next court appearance is set for February 9, 2017 at 9:00 a.m. in Hastings.
If you have questions, contact James Backstrom at 651-438-4440.