Former Redwood Falls resident Jason Robert Beckman, age 45, appeared Tuesday in court after being arrested and charged with three felony counts:
Investigation showed Beckman had no apparent connection with either the St. Cloud / Waite Park area, or with the murder victim. During the investigation, officers located a broken pickup owned by a friend of Beckman’s, who acknowledged loaning it to Beckman to move tools from “down south”.
After the borrowed pickup broke down in Waite Park, Beckman apparently took an Audi sedan that had been reported stolen earlier that morning, and that was near the scene of the murder. Beckman was observed in surveillance video at a nearby convenience store at 3:24 a.m., and looking over cars in a Kia parking lot about two hours later.
When police arrived at the Beaver Island Trail area where a man with a handgun had been observed, they arrested Beckman carrying a .45 handgun that had been reported stolen from Red Wing. Beckman is legally barredf from possessing firearms or ammunition because of his multiple felony convictions of crimes of violence. The arresting officers stated Beckman made several utterances consistent with awareness of guilt, and to having used controlled substances.
In a taped statement, Beckman told investigators he admitted stealing the Audi, and crashed it in a nearby residential neighborhood. He claimed that when he knocked on a house door for help, he believed the man who answered the door, Dr. Edward Anthony Ward, a business school professor in St. Cloud, had earlier threatened him. Beckman admitted pulling out his handgun and shooting Ward twice. Ward was declared dead at the St. Cloud hospital.
Judge Frederick L. Grunke set bail at $2 million unconditional, or $1 million with conditions. A competency examination was ordered, and the criminal matter will be temporarily suspended pending that examination. Bail and all conditions of release remain in place.
The St. Cloud Police Department, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, and Waite Park Police Department did the investigation that resulted in the arrest and charges in this case.