By Jake Rossen
By Jesse Marx
By Michelle LeBow
By Alleen Brown
By Maggie LaMaack
By CP Staff
By Jesse Marx
On the night he died, Henry Moormann bumped into his mom at the end of her work day.
"Do you want to have dinner?" she asked.
"I've got to run out to the Mall of America," he replied. "We'll grab a bite around 9."
He slouched out to his '88 Ciera wearing the bruiser face he'd perfected, the one he wore everywhere but in front of his mother.
He cruised past elegant houses with arched windows and stone walks, the gracious lakeside homes of southwest Minneapolis, out to the mall where he bought a sweatshirt. He went to a phone and called some friends. He said he was worried. He had a bad feeling about this buy.
Evening found him with a half pound of marijuana in the trunk and the butt of his .380 semiautomatic hard against his stomach, heading through the low-slung houses of Richfield to meet his pick-up at Augsburg Park.
It was January 8, 1998, and Moormann, who would have turned 19 in June, was on his way to make his last sale. He was a small-time dealer who moved magic mushrooms and grass, selling mostly to his high-school buddies, other white kids who lived in his own affluent neighborhood. There was usually a group of them loafing in the garage behind the house where he lived with his mother, real-estate agent Nancy Moormann.
On the night he died, he was edgy. These were kids he knew, kids he'd sold to off and on. But he couldn't figure where they got the money to buy half a pound. He got to the park first and had to wait. What he saw when they finally showed was even worse. He counted five bodies jammed into the minivan, and he started to back away.
Two of the teenagers jumped out into the dark and waved sawed-off shotguns at Moormann, demanding his drugs. Moormann slammed his trunk shut, and reached too late into his waistband for his pistol.
The first blast hit him in his left arm, and as he
stumbled forward, the second caught him on the right arm. The shot that killed him was fired into his back as he lay face down on the concrete.
By this time, Nancy Moormann had given up on dinner with her son. She was used to Henry's comings and goings at odd hours. "He's off on a toot," she thought to herself, and ate a solitary sandwich watching E.R. She went to bed at 10:30 or 11, while investigators from the Richfield PD were chalking the shotgun shells on the asphalt.
"About 3 o'clock," she recalls, "the dog woke up and had to go out. I saw a car drive up. I saw two cars drive up. And I knew there was something wrong."
Richfield sees only one or two murders a year, and its police department is small. There's no full-time homicide unit, just a team of investigators drawn from across the force. For Richfield the point-blank shooting of Heinz "Henry" Moormann was unprecedented. A force of six cops started work that night hoping for fresh clues. Over the next three days, up to 20 officers from across the metro area worked the case around the clock.
Lt. Glenn Mork oversaw the investigation. A young cop with a serious face and a trim build, he quickly amassed a good 7 inches of paper on the case. "We had some really good breaks early on that paid off," he says, patting the fruits of his investigation, bound in a black, three-ring binder. "We pretty much had the case wrapped up in the first three days."
The first warrants went out on Brandon Connor, 19, and his girlfriend, Lt. Mork says. The criminal complaint against Connor and four other teens describes the police's version of events: One of them, Sean Ueland, told police he was just along for the ride. He knew Moormann, he added. At the park, Ueland said, Justin Stiles, 19, and Charlie Seepersaud, 18, jumped out of the minivan with shotguns and ordered Moormann to "give us your shit."
Mork's investigators brought in Seepersaud. At first, he denied everything that Mork said. But finally in a taped interview Seepersaud cracked and admitted he was at the shooting. He and his friends set Moormann up, luring him out to the park to rob him. According to the criminal complaint, Seepersaud said he was holding a 20-gauge sawed-off shotgun when they jumped out of the van. Seepersaud's story echoed Ueland's. Moormann reached for his gun, Ueland and Seepersaud both told police, and Stiles fired his 12-gauge. Seepersaud said the gun he was holding just went off.
The fifth teen in the van that night, Justin Valeen, 17, later told police that after the shooting Stiles got back in the van and ordered him to get rid of the guns. Valeen showed police where he hid them, a couple blocks from Stiles's house. When police searched Stiles's house, they found the other half of a sawed-off shotgun barrel.
Prosecutors handed this evidence to a grand jury and in February, Stiles, Seepersaud, Valeen, and Connor were indicted on charges of first-degree murder. Their trials are pending. No charges have been brought against Ueland.