A neighbor and business partner has been charged with the murder of Chad Swedberg, 33, a Little White Earth Lake man who was shot April 13 while processing maple sugar on his property in Maple Grove Township.
Kenneth Eugene Andersen, 34, of 37997 280th Ave., Waubun (Fish Hook Lake) was charged with felony second degree murder Thursday in Becker County District Court.
Andersen is accused of shooting Swedberg twice -- in the shoulder and hip areas -- with a high-powered rifle fired from a distance. The upper torso shot damaged internal organs and the combined gunshots caused Swedberg's death, according to court records.
Andersen is a seasoned big game hunter, according to court records.
Swedberg was found shortly after 8 a.m. near a maple syrup cooker by his wife, Leslie Fain. She had heard two shots that morning and went to check on him after he didn't answer repeated cell phone calls.
A Tikka 300 Winchester Short Magnum bolt-action rifle, believed to be the murder weapon, was allegedly found covered by insulation in the ceiling of one of Andersen's outbuildings. The property was searched June 7.
In two conversations with investigators prior to the search, Andersen did not disclose ownership of the rifle.
Two 30-caliber bullets recovered from Swedberg's body appeared to match bullets fired from the Tikka 300, according to an analysis by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.
According to the criminal complaint and search warrant records, officers found partial footprints leading in the general direction of Andersen's residence on the day of the shooting.
During the ensuing investigation, friends and family members of the two men allegedly told investigators they believed Andersen was responsible for Swedberg's death.
One pointed out that the murder scene was in an "extremely remote" area that would have been very difficult to find without knowing the location, but Andersen had been there with Swedberg a few days before the shooting.
Another noted that he told Andersen that Swedberg was at the site that morning, shortly before the shooting occurred.
Another said that Swedberg was growing increasingly unhappy with a construction business partnership between himself and Andersen. Profits were supposed to be split 50-50, but Andersen was believed to be skimming more than his share.
One related a conversation in which Swedberg told him he was concerned about Andersen's character and criminal history, and that he intended to address those issues with Andersen and to quit the partnership and go into business on his own.
Andersen's criminal history includes a 1991 conviction for defrauding an insurer, a 2005 arrest for felony arson in Becker County, a contempt of court charge in Sherbourne County in 2005, a theft arrest in Roseau County last year, and several lesser offenses.
The Roseau County charge involves a stolen ATV, and one relative said both he and Swedberg told Andersen they would not lie to police to cover up for the theft, according to court records.
One said Andersen and Swedberg were feuding because Andersen owed him money, and because he had hidden the stolen ATV on Swedberg's property.
Andersen is currently being held at the Roseau County Jail on the stolen ATV charge, and will be transferred to Becker County once Roseau County makes him available, according to Becker County Sheriff Tim Gordon.