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Granite Falls Advocate Tribune - Granite Falls, MN
  • Montevideo woman is fatal victim of stabbing

  • A Montevideo woman was the victim of a fatal assault in the parking lot of the Montevideo Pizza Ranch Friday night after being stabbed with a knife by a co-worker with whom she worked at the restaurant. Vinessa Victoria Lozano, 18, died at Chippewa County-Montevideo Hospital after being stabbed more than 30 ...
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  • A Montevideo woman was the victim of a fatal assault in the parking lot of the Montevideo Pizza Ranch Friday night after being stabbed with a knife by a co-worker with whom she worked at the restaurant.
    Vinessa Victoria Lozano, 18, died at Chippewa County-Montevideo Hospital after being stabbed more than 30 times, allegedly by Darek Jon Nelson, 24, also of Montevideo.
    The fatal assault occurred at approximately 8:45 p.m. on Friday. Montevideo Police Officer Angela Kveene was the first to respond to a dispatcher’s call. She was just a few blocks away and quickly reached the scene, where she found Nelson standing over Lozano’s body holding a hunting knife. Nelson dropped the knife when ordered to do so at gunpoint by Kveene.
    Daniel O’Malley, a co-worker of both Lozano and Nelson, attempted to come to Lozano’s aid while he told another employee to call 911.
    O’Malley said he was locking the front door of Pizza Ranch to close the restaurant when he saw Nelson on top of Lozano.
    “I started instantly yelling at him to get off. I grabbed the shoulder of his coat. That’s when he swung around and stabbed at me,” said O’Malley.
    “The second time I grabbed him and pulled him down the sidewalk until he tried to swing the knife at me again. I ran towards the highway through the ditch and I tried to keep him as close to myself as I could so he wouldn’t go back, and that’s when I started to run down the service road. I stopped, turned around, and saw he was making his way back to where she was.
    “I started making my way back to where he was when I saw the cops coming down the service road. I pointed to the cops (to where the Lozano was laying).
    “I?just wanted to get him off her and away from him as fast as I could.”
    Kveene was quickly assisted by Sgt. Ken Schule and Officer George Eklund, both of the Montevideo PD, and other law enforcement personnel from the Chippewa County Sheriff’s Office and Minnesota Highway Patrol.
    Kveene and Schule performed emergency treatment on Lozano at the scene, but she was pronounced dead at the hospital at 9:33 p.m.
    “(Kveene) did a wonderful job,” said Monte video Police Chief Adam Christopher. “She controlled the situation until other troopers and deputies got there.”
    Christopher said Nelson was taken to the Granite Falls Hospital for treatment of cut wounds to his hands prior to being incarcerated at the jail in Granite Falls, where he is currently being held.
    “We try to be compassionate with both suspects and victims,” said Christ opher.
    Christopher said Nelson has no prior infractions on his record.
    Page 2 of 2 - According to the complaint filed by the Montevideo Police Department, Sgt. Schule asked Lozano who did this to her, and Lozano stated “Darek.” Schule asked “Darek who?” and Lozano stated “Darek Nelson.”
    Schule then transported Nelson to the Yellow Medicine County Jail where Schule conducted a Mirandized interview at approximately midnight.
    During the course of the interview, Schule asked Nelson what his feelings were for Lozano, and he stated, “I?guess she is the second dearest person to me.” Nelson admitted that Lozano did not share his feelings.
    Nelson told Schule that he spoke to Lozano on the phone Jan. 8 and asked her to come over to his place, but when Lozano never showed up, Nelson said Lozano had lied to him before and he was sick of it. Nelson said he first thought about killing Lozano that Sunday night and, over the course of the next few days, made a plan to bring his hunting knife to work on Friday (Jan. 13), and if she treated him badly, he was going to kill her.
    Nelson described going to work on Jan. 13 as miserable and that Lozano just shunned him. Nelson said he never called his parents for a ride home from work that night because “I knew what was going to happen.”
    Nelson went on to tell Schule that he clocked out of work at around 8:45 p.m., and Lozano about the same time. Nelson said he  followed Lozano out the employee door. Schule asked Nelson if he tried to talk to Lozano as they were leaving and he shook his head no.
    Schule asked what happened next. Nelson stated, “I killed her.”
    O’Malley said Nelson  pretty much kept to himself at work, but, to his knowledge, Nelson never had any problems at work before. “It was completely unexpected,” O’Malley said of the assault on Lozano.
    First appearance
    Nelson appeared in Chippewa County District Court on Tuesday, at 11 a.m., before District Judge Dwayne Knutsen.
    When Knutsen asked Nelson, “Did you receive a copy of the complaint and do you understand the nature of these charges,” Nelson quietly said, “yes.”
    The complaint states that there is probable cause to believe that the defendant committed the following offenses: murder in the second  degree; manslaughter in the first degree, assault in the second degree (on Lozano) and assault in the second degree (on O’Malley).
    The maximum sentence for murder in the second degree is up to 40 years in prison.
    Nelson was represented in court by his court-appointed public defender, attorney Greg Holmstrom, of Granite Falls.
    Unconditional bail for Nelson was set at $750,000.
    Chippewa County Attorney Dave Gilbertson, who is prosecuting the case, did not indicate in court on Tuesday whether or not he will ask for a grand jury to be convened. A?grand jury is required under Minnesota law for the prosecution to seek a first-degree murder charge. The punishment for conviction of murder in the first degree would be life in prison, since Minnesota does not have the death penalty.
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