A man arrested this week on suspicion of fatally stabbing a 20-year-old woman in south Minneapolis 27 years ago raped a different woman while eluding capture in the killing, according to murder charges filed Thursday.
Donald C. Jenkins Jr., 56, of Crystal, was charged with second-degree murder in the 1991 death of Belinda Thompson of Minneapolis. Jenkins remains jailed ahead of his first court appearance Friday.
The break in the case is being credited to investigators taking a new look at DNA and other physical evidence.
“We appreciate the tenacious detective work of the Minneapolis Police Department and the FBI on this case and intend to bring Mr. Jenkins to justice,” said Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman. “Although it does not change what happened to Ms. Thompson, we hope it will bring some closure to her family who have suffered with not knowing who murdered her for so many years.”
In 1993, Jenkins was found guilty in a separate case in Hennepin County of first-degree criminal sexual conduct. He was later convicted of failing to register with authorities as a predatory offender.
According to the criminal complaint:
On Dec. 19, 1991, police were called to an apartment in the 2800 block of Grand Avenue S. and found Thompson’s body on her bedroom floor. She was stabbed seven times on the front of her body and four times in her back.
Officers found a bloody knife tucked between couch cushions and determined it matched a set in the kitchen.
Police soon learned that Jenkins and Thompson’s boyfriend were friends, and Jenkins told officers soon after the killing that he had loaned his car to the woman’s boyfriend a day before her death and it was returned the next day.
In 2008, homicide detectives submitted a bloody washcloth and other evidence to the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension for DNA testing. In 2010, Jenkins was extradited from Louisiana to Minnesota, and a DNA sample was collected from him.
“Jenkins’ DNA could not be excluded from the mixture of DNA on the washcloth, but 99.1 percent of the population could be,” the complaint read.
The suspect then told investigators a different story. Detectives asked him whether his DNA would be on the washcloth, and he replied, “Let’s find out!” He then claimed to detectives that he had once cut his knuckle working on a vehicle at Thompson’s apartment.
On Tuesday, the day before the 27th anniversary of the murder, detectives interviewed Jenkins again and arrested him in South St. Paul. After initially denying involvement, he said, “My DNA is there; I did it,” according to the complaint.
Jenkins told detectives he wasn’t supposed to visit Thompson’s apartment when her boyfriend wasn’t there. He said he was “chasing dope” and didn’t think anyone would be home.
He said that while inside the apartment, he grabbed a knife off the table and knocked Thompson to the floor. Jenkins said he stabbed her because he feared her boyfriend would kill him for coming over to the apartment.
Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482