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Zornes' helpers assisted in his arrest

Tracy Zornes

MOORHEAD - Two women who helped Tracy Zornes while he was on the run from police also played a role in his capture, jurors heard Thursday in Zornes' double-murder trial here.

The jury also heard forensic scientists reinforce the defense's claim that no DNA was found tying Zornes to victims Megan Londo, 25, and John Cadotte, 20, whose stabbed and beaten bodies were found in a burned Moorhead apartment on Feb. 19, 2010.

Michelle Pearlson of the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension said DNA tests didn't link the victims to Zornes' clothing or tools found at the rural Mahnomen County campsite where he was captured two weeks after the fire.

Zornes' attorney, Joe Parise, grilled BCA scientists on why fingernail clippings taken from Cadotte's body weren't tested to determine if more than one person's DNA was present.

Pearlson said the BCA normally tests fingernail swabs from female victims because the test can amplify a small amount of male DNA among a lot of female DNA. With a male victim, there can be so much of his DNA it can "squeeze out" other male DNA, she said.

Monica Perrault of Naytahwaush, who considers Zornes a good friend, testified she twice met Zornes to give him supplies while he was on the lam, the second time with her sister, Pam Keezer, and Zornes' sister, Lisa Zornes.

Assistant Clay County Attorney Matthew Greenley asked Perrault why she led investigators to Tracy Zornes on March 4 - the day after she, Keezer and Lisa Zornes had met him at Roy Lake and provided him with a change of clothes, a phone and food.

"Because they kept showing up at my house, searching my house, telling me that I would be going to jail with him, and the fact that he was cold and I didn't think he could go on like that," Perrault said.

Perrault said the first time she brought supplies to Zornes - including a pair of pink long underwear - they stopped at a church to change clothes and she asked him what happened with the fire.

"He said he went to pick up Megan and they were partying and it was getting loud, some dude was on the phone, and he went outside to the car and listened to the radio. When he woke up, it was obvious it was too late to do anything so he left," Perrault said, saying she assumed he meant the fire had already started.

A BCA agent said authorities got a tip March 3 that Zornes had been at the home of Melanie Malmo at Roy Lake, Minn.

Malmo said he looked cold, dirty and "full of soot" when he showed up at her door. Zornes took a shower and had a bowl of soup at the house, according to testimony Thursday.

Malmo said she left the house worried and called police to tell them Zornes was at the house.

When she returned, the officers were there but Zornes was gone.

In defense questioning, Malmo said she was aware of the $1,000 reward for information leading to Zornes' arrest - but didn't get it - and she thought the smell of smoke on Zornes was "just the campfire."

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Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528