Authorities say it was actually the dismembered body of Balsimo, 34, of St. Paul, Minn., who had gone missing on June 20. West, a 41-year-old from Duluth, Minn., has been charged with being an accomplice “after the fact” to murder and “interference with a dead body.”
As of early Wednesday, it does not appear police have arrested anyone they are accusing of killing Balsimo.
On June 20, a witness told Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension agents, she met up with West and another man at West’s home, according to the complaint. The man accompanying West, she said, was nervous about something in his car being discovered. When the witness asked the man about the car, he allegedly said: “Please don’t make me tell you what I have on me.” (The Washington Post is not identifying the man because he has not been charged in the case.)
She noticed bullet holes in the passenger seat of the car, the complaint states, and the man asked her to pass a bag containing a gun to West.
Two days later, West asked the witness if she knew anyone with a boat, according to the complaint. West said he wanted to go fishing.
She knew a commercial fisherman, she said, so the two set off in separate cars toward Grand Portage, Minn., a community on the western shore of Lake Superior. Before arriving, they stopped at a campground, where the witness asked West if he was paranoid about something.
“Ya with a dead body in the back,” West said, according to the complaint.
At about 11:30 p.m. in Grand Portage, West and the witness met the fisherman. West allegedly told him that he wanted to dump some of his grandmother’s valuables in the lake later that week.
The next day, West allegedly told the witness that the man at his house two days earlier had shot someone and that his body was “chopped up” in a camper. The alleged killing, he said according to the complaint, was “in self-defense.”
That same day, prosecutors allege in the complaint, West and the fisherman boated out onto the lake. There, the fisherman saw West drop into the water two five-gallon buckets and a large tote bag. The fisherman “believed the buckets had green or black lids and noted they were likely heavy because [West] strained while lifting them, one at a time,” the complaint states.
West said they contained the body of a dog.
On Thursday, the fisherman met with agents from the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and helped them find the area where he saw West drop the buckets. The agents found one of the buckets and a tote, according to the complaint.
In the tote, agents discovered a male human torso that appeared to have suffered a bullet wound. Also in the bag was a pair of pants and a casino player’s card belonging to Balsimo.
The Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office later identified the body as Balsimo, the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension said in a news release on Monday. The medical examiner determined Balsimo had died of “homicidal violence.”
West faces a maximum of more than 20 years in prison. No attorney was listed in the charging documents.
The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension said on Monday: “Additional charges are anticipated.”