Charges: John Stanton panicked after 2nd woman in 6 weeks died in his St. Paul apartment
On May 10, John Stanton's wife, 46-year-old Towanda Harris, was brutally murdered by her ex-boyfriend following a boozy argument at a party in Stanton's apartment at 1465 Minnehaha Avenue East in St. Paul (unit 101).
Just over a month later, Rahel Nigusse, a woman who was present when 54-year-old Willie Chestnut allegedly stabbed Harris to death, also passed away in Stanton's apartment while he was out running an errand. It doesn't appear Nigusse, 39, was murdered. The medical examiner ruled her cause of death "undetermined," and noted she was in poor health because of a case of severe diabetic keoacidosis.
Nonetheless, according to charges filed this week, when Stanton, 64, returned home and found Nigusse's body, he panicked.
Police found Nigusse's body wrapped in a blue blanket with her head in a pillow case on June 21, four days after she died, in a wooded area near Stanton's apartment. A study of crime scene photographs from Harris's murder revealed that a blue blanket just like the one Nigusse's body was wrapped in was inside Stanton's apartment during the May incident, so investigators decided to question him.
According to the complaint, Stanton initially denied knowing anything about Nigusse's death, but he changed his tune when told about physical evidence linking him to her body. (In addition to the blanket, a pillow case found in his apartment matched the one found around Nigusse's head, suggesting they were a set). Stanton then changed his tune and admitted he and Nigusse were friends. In fact, Stanton said Nigusse had been staying at his apartment "on and off."
Stanton told investigators that on the morning of June 17, he went to the store. When he came back, Nigusse was lying on the floor, dead.
"[Stanton] panicked and stated that he was scared and 'didn't want another body found in his house,'" the complaint says. "Defendant thought it would look bad if two women died in his apartment in a period of six weeks."
So he allegedly decided to move Nigusse's body, first to a closet in his apartment, and then, the next day, to the nearby wooded area.
"Prior to moving [Nigusse], [Stanton] wrapped her in the blanket, put a towel over her face, and a pillowcase over her head, so that blood when not get on anything when he moved her," the complaint says. "[Stanton] tied a necktie around her wrists so that he would be able to drag her more easily. [Stanton] carried and dragged [Nigusse's] body from his apartment at 1465 Minnehaha Avenue to the wooded location."
For allegedly moving Nigusse's body, Stanton faces a gross misdemeanor "concealing evidence" charge that could land him behind bars for a year with a $3,000 fine. A Ramsey County official tells us Stanton has 45 arrest records since 1998, including arrests for drug possession, violating an order for protection, property damage, and driving without a license, among other offenses.
To read the complaint for yourself, click to page two.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss City Pages' biggest stories.