A woman accused of plunging a knife into her live-in boyfriend’s heart drew police to their home twice in less than 45 minutes because of her erratic behavior before officers returned one last time to investigate the stabbing, according to charges filed Wednesday.
Zara Jo Case, 35, was charged in Hennepin County District Court with second-degree murder in connection with the death Saturday of Joseph “Moochie” McRunnel, 39, at the apartment they shared in the 900 block of SE 15th Avenue. Case remains jailed ahead of a court appearance Thursday.
The complaint noted that McRunnel was known by his parents, neighbors and friends as a “calm, passive person,” while Case was “volatile and confrontational when high or drunk.”
Case told police soon after the killing that she had recently left substance abuse rehabilitation and was addicted to methamphetamines and alcohol. Her criminal history in Minnesota includes convictions for drunken driving and obstructing police, and multiple counts of drinking in public.
Friend Ashley Gross said in an interview the day after the killing that McRunnel “had just got a great job at a brewery and loved her with all his heart.”
According to the complaint and a search warrant affidavit:
Police were called to the address about 5:25 a.m. by a man in a different apartment who said Case broke his window, and he said he moved his refrigerator against the door to keep Case from breaking in.
Officers located Case, who was naked from the waist down and “extremely intoxicated,” and sent her back to her apartment.
The neighbor called again about 5:45 a.m., saying Case was trying to get in his apartment. With McRunnel’s help, Case was led back to their apartment.
The third call came at 6:06 a.m., this time with a report that Case was on the street corner and screaming that McRunnel had stabbed himself.
Officers found McRunnel on the floor in his apartment. He was stabbed in the chest and had bite marks on his right shoulder and arm, as well as cuts to his abdomen.
McRunnel seemed to police to be unaware that he had been stabbed, saying, “It’s just a tattoo … I just touched myself.” He also said he didn’t know who stabbed him.
Police saw broken glass at the scene and initially thought McRunnel had cut himself. First responders did not initially suspect that the wound was potentially fatal.
McRunnel was taken to HCMC and died there. The Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office said the knife went more than 4 inches into his chest and pierced his right ventricle.
Police found a large kitchen knife with blood on it on the bedroom floor.
Case later told officers that she and McRunnel had split a liter of whiskey and that she remembered what happened.