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Monday, April 25, 2011

St. Paul man who said his wife was slain by an intruder is now a possible suspect in year-long case

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Anonymous Pioneer Press said...

Police still have some questions; his attorney says he's cooperated
By Mara H. Gottfried
mgottfried@pioneerpress.com
Updated: 04/25/2011 09:19:43 AM CDT


In the year since Heidi Firkus was killed in her St. Paul home, after her husband said he struggled with an intruder and a shotgun went off, the police department's focus has expanded to include Nicholas Firkus as a potential suspect.

Firkus "has not been eliminated as a possible suspect," said Senior Cmdr. Bill Martinez, who heads the homicide unit, last week. "His version is there was someone who was breaking into the house. We haven't been able to identify that person."

Last May, then-police spokesman Sgt. Paul Schnell said Firkus was being "regarded as a victim until and unless information arises that changes his classification."

Joe Friedberg, Firkus' attorney, said police have "treated him as a suspect from Day One. That's why I got involved. I believe them to be wrong. I believed from the beginning that he's a victim and not a perpetrator."

The Firkuses' Hamline-Midway house had been foreclosed upon, and they were to be evicted the day after the April 25, 2010, shootings. Police found correspondence in the home "outlining numerous examples of severe financial problems the couple was facing," according to a search warrant affidavit filed last year.

Friedberg responded: "The police either negligently or intentionally misrepresented his financial condition. They said he was far more in debt than he actually was. We did our own financial investigation, and we find no possibility for any financial motive for this type of thing."

The affidavit also said investigators "found no evidence that Heidi was in any way aware of the dire financial" straits "the couple was in or the pending eviction/foreclosure scheduled for the following day.

The house was fully furnished and nothing was packed."
The idea that Heidi Firkus was unaware is "totally false," Friedberg said. "We have documentary evidence of the fact that she knew exactly what was going on. In fact, they were out together shortly before, looking for a new residence."

ATTORNEY DISAGREE
It was about 6:30 a.m. April 25, 2010, when two 911 calls came from the Firkus home.

Police found Nicholas Firkus, 28, with a gunshot wound to the leg and Heidi Firkus, 25, dead, shot in the back, in their home in the 1700 block of West Minnehaha Avenue.

Nicholas Firkus told police that he and Heidi were upstairs when they heard noises downstairs and thought someone was breaking in, the search warrant affidavit said.

Police "found some markings on the door," Martinez said last week. "We don't know if it's indicative of a forced entry or not." Police don't believe anything was taken from the home, he said.

7:51 PM  
Anonymous story continued said...

Nicholas Firkus reported that he grabbed his double-barreled shotgun and he and his wife went downstairs, where they encountered a man. He said he and the intruder struggled and the shotgun went off, striking his wife. They continued to struggle, and the gun discharged again, striking Nicholas Firkus.

Firkus had a superficial gunshot wound; he was treated and released from the hospital that day.

Martinez said recently of Firkus: "We have a number of questions we'd like to ask him. He hasn't been interviewed in almost a year, since it happened. He hasn't been fully cooperative in some of our requests. We have strict orders from his attorney that he's not to talk to us."

Firkus "couldn't have been more cooperative," Friedberg said. "He voluntarily spoke to them at great length." He said he told Firkus not to speak to police anymore because "he's provided them all the information that he can possibly provide them with. The reason they want to speak to him again is to see if they can classify some detail he provides as a different answer, so they can make a false claim he's lying."

A composite sketch, released by police May 14, "hasn't generated any credible information" and no one who witnessed the intruder has been found or come forward, Martinez said. Friedberg had Firkus complete the sketch with a private artist; police had wanted Firkus to work with a police artist.

ANOTHER DNA SAMPLE

Friedberg said police called him in the past two to three weeks and asked for another DNA sample from Firkus, who voluntarily had provided one last year. The officer "very politely explained that apparently they had lost, misplaced or done something wrong with the DNA," Friedberg said. Firkus provided another DNA sample, he said.

Martinez said police obtained the second sample because the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension requested it. He had no information about the reason. "All the DNA test is for us is an elimination test," Martinez said. Police said in the days after the homicide that the shotgun would be processed for fingerprint and DNA evidence.

Police also asked for DNA from the man who sold the shotgun to Firkus, Friedberg said. Martinez said that's not an uncommon step. "We would want to know anyone who handled the gun and rule them out as a possible suspect," he said.

Heidi and Nicholas Firkus had been married five years and were youth leaders at their church.

Heidi Firkus worked at Securian, and at the time of the homicide, Nicholas Firkus was director of operations at a local carpeting and upholstery cleaning company.

Reached by the Pioneer Press last week, Nicholas Firkus said he didn't want to comment because it was a hard time for him, with the death of his wife and recent loss of his grandparents. Ethel Firkus, who died April 10, was one of the first female Ramsey County sheriff's deputies and worked for the department from 1964 to 1986.

Heidi Firkus' parents did not respond to a call seeking comment.

Mara H. Gottfried can be reached at 651-228-5262.

Anyone with information is asked to police at 651-266-5650.

7:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bob,

I remember this incident like it was yesterday.

No, I didn't see what happened, but I remember all the work Heidi did in her yard. I also remember a single white tulip that bloomed in front of her house right after she was killed. I thought something so beautiful could bloom after something so tragic happened.

10:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Could be domestic violence.

11:22 PM  
Blogger Bob said...

This is a comment copied from the Pioneer Press.

"Nicholas Firkus was St Paul Mayor Coleman's canvasing director and is Now working with the Carter campaign. I do not think that Nicholas could have done somthing like this."

8:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Democrats seem to like the criminal element.

9:27 PM  

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