Michael Swanson charged with killing for cash and cigarettes

After he was booked, <a href="" target="_blank">Swanson smiled for reporters</a>.

After he was booked, Swanson smiled for reporters.

Michael Richard Swanson smiled for the cameras during his perp walk Tuesday in Algona, Iowa.

It's hard to see why the 17-year-old from St. Louis Park would take two counts of first-degree murder so lightly. If he's convicted, he'll spend the rest of his life in prison.


According to police, he walked into a gas station in Algona, Iowa, just after 9 p.m. on Monday. He demanded money and cigarettes from 47-year-old clerk Vicky Bowman-Hall, a mother of 10. She handed both over, and then he shot and killed her anyway.

Thirty miles down Hwy. 169 in Humbolt he allegedly shot and killed 61-year-old Sheila Meyers at another gas station. The cops arrested him later that night at a McDonald's in Webster City. A gun and the stolen cigarettes were found in his car.

At his first court hearing today, he was ordered held on $1 million bail at Kossuth County Jail.And he spoke with reporters, smiling.

When a reporter asked why he came to Iowa, Swanson shook his head as he laughed and smiled.

"I don't know," he said.

Another reporter asked, "What's so funny, you're smiling?"

"Y'all are funny," Swanson responded.

Hennepin County court records show that Swanson was charged in October 2009 with stealing and crashing a car, underage drinking, and giving an arresting officer a fake name and birth date. He pleaded guilty to the auto theft, the other three charges were dropped, and a judge sent him to the Hennepin County Home School. He'd been out a little more than a week, on home supervision as part of a parole agreement, when his parents reported that he'd fled.

It doesn't sound like life at home has been easy.

A list of 10 police calls to Swanson's parents' house since 2005 include reports of assault, theft, a missing person, vehicle theft, threats, weapons violations and shots fired.

Swanson's due back in court Nov. 29.