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Double homicide suspect allegedly admitted to killing Mahnomen couple

Timothy James Thorson walks to make his first court appearance in Mahnomen County District Court Monday. (Riham Feshir/Record)

A 53-year-old Mahnomen man accused of killing an elderly couple made his first appearance Monday before Mahnomen County District Judge Tamara Yon and about 20 of the victims' family members.

Timothy James Thorson appeared on two counts of second-degree murder, one count of first-degree burglary and a felony count of theft of a motor vehicle.

The charges stem from an incident that occurred in the early morning hours of Friday, Oct. 1, when Francis Lundon, 72, and Ethyl Lundon, 71, were found shot to death in their rural Mahnomen home.

Judge Yon set bail at $2 million cash or bond, with conditions, or $5 million cash without conditions.

At the hearing that was held via ITV from Pennington County, the suspect's attorney, Mike Russo, said Thorson's income is about $89 per month and asked the judge to set bail at a reasonable level.

But Judge Yon said based on the allegations, there is a "significant public safety" risk if Thorson were to be released.

The sole suspect in the double murder was being held in Benton County Jail over the weekend where he was arrested.

According to the criminal complaint:

Thorson was pulled over on County Road 25 in Benton County after deputies learned that he told a man he killed two people in Mahnomen County.

The vehicle he was driving was registered to Francis Lundon. During the stop, Thorson reportedly admitted to killing two people in Mahnomen and said "he wanted to be honest with the deputies."

Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigators interviewed Thorson who said he had been living at the Center for Human Environment -- a home for chronically chemically dependent people about a mile north of the Lundon home -- for three years.

Thorson allegedly told investigators that while living at the center he learned that there was a "drug dealer" living "down the road on the right," adding that his family had endured hardship due to the drug culture.

Thorson said sometime around 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 30, he went to the farm previously identified as the home of a drug dealer.

"Timothy Thorson explained his intent was to rob these individuals and if necessary kill them," according to court documents.

Investigators learned that Thorson rode his bicycle to a location near the farmstead, carrying some personal items with him in a duffel bag because he did not plan on returning to the center.

According to the criminal complaint, Thorson said he left his bike alongside the house in the ditch, walked through a wooded area and up to the front door. When he knocked on the door, no one answered, but he believed the residents were home because he saw their cars outside.

Thorson told authorities that he pushed the door open and yelled inside the residence in an attempt to get someone to the front door.

"I should have left," he said, when he saw two older people, according to the complaint.

But he allegedly had a conversation with Francis Lundon who told him he didn't have a lot of money or valuables.

Thorson said when Francis Lundon attempted to grab Thorson's gun, he shot him in the stomach, the complaint states. Thorson told investigators when he saw Lundon attempting to get up, he shot him again in the head.

Ethyl Lundon became hysterical and yelled at Thorson to leave because he just killed her husband, the complaint states. "So I shot her. I shot her in the back twice," he told investigators.

The suspect then saw car keys lying besides Francis Lundon, so he took them and fled the scene in the truck, reportedly heading south on County Road 3, traveling to Bemidji, to Cass Lake and Walker, then to Highway 371, stopping for liquor along the way.

He recalled going south on Highway 371 to Highway 25 before running out of gas. The complaint states he stopped to ask a man for gas money and allegedly told him he killed two people in Mahnomen County.

Court documents state that the man went to the Pierz police chief's house and informed him of his encounter with Thorson.

The tip promoted an investigation caused by an incident that shook the small community of Mahnomen.

About 20 Lundon family members stood in the courtroom where Thorson appeared on Monday, some wiping tears off their faces.

"All they wanted to do was let him know that they were there," Mahnomen County Sheriff Doug Krier said.

He added that the Lundons are "a good family," and police have never been called to their residence.

The family of the victims declined to comment on the case, however Andrew Lundon said the bail amount was high but it won't make up for the loss of his great aunt and uncle.

Thorson was brought to Mahnomen County for the court appearance Monday. He remains in custody at the Clearwater County Jail in Bagley. His next court appearance was scheduled for 9 a.m. Thursday.

The maximum penalty for second-degree murder is 40 years in prison; for first-degree burglary the penalty is 20 years or $30,000 fine or both and for theft of a motor vehicle, it's five years or $10,000 fine or both.