Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom announced that Vern Jason Mouelle, age 24, of Brooklyn Park, was convicted late Monday by a Dakota County Jury today of two counts of First Degree Murder and two counts of Second Degree Murder in connection with the death of Senicha Marie Lessman, age 25, of Eagan, and her unborn child on January 24, 2017 in Eagan. The jury deliberated for approximately four hours. Judge Erica MacDonald sentenced Mouelle to two consecutive terms of life without the possibility of parole.
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.
An analysis of Mouelle’s cell phone by the Eagan Police Department with the assistance of the Dakota County Electronic Crimes Unit revealed significant incriminating evidence including the following internet searches: "How long would it take to die if one of your external jugular vein(s) was slit"; and "How much time does it take to knock someone out with a rear naked choke". These searches occurred while Mouelle was driving to the victim’s residence immediately prior to the murder.
A copy of the indictment and previous criminal complaints can be found at Criminal Complaint Search. If in custody, a mug shot can be viewed at Inmate Search. Prior news releases are available at County Attorney News Releases.
Backstrom commented: "We are pleased to have brought Vern Mouelle to justice for this horrific crime 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 Assistant County Attorney Jessica Bierwerth and Chief Deputy Phil Prokopowicz, who prosecuted the case. Backstrom also thanked the Eagan Police Department, the Dakota County Sheriff’s Office Electronic Crimes Unit, 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. If you have questions, contact James Backstrom at 651-438-4440.