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Double homicide in Babbitt, man charged

BCA at house at 38 Fir Circle in Babbitt. Photo by John Schaper.

by Tom Coombe

Court documents released this week describe a gruesome incident in Babbitt over the weekend, one that left an elderly couple dead and a man they took in facing two counts of murder.

The bodies of Clifford Johnson, 78, and Christine Johnson, 79, were both discovered early Sunday at their Babbitt home.

Arrested and charged with their killing was Roger Beldo, 54, who was also living at the Fir Circle home and who allegedly confessed to authorities and that he used both a tire iron and hammer to kill the Johnsons.

Beldo was arrested by Duluth police and charged this week with two counts of second-degree murder.

He is being held on $1 million bail and could spend the rest of his life in prison, if convicted.

A criminal complaint released Tuesday describes both the circumstances of the crime and the hours leading up to Beldo’s arrest.

Late Saturday night, Duluth police were called to the emergency room at Essentia  Health-St. Mary’s, where Beldo told authorities he had done “some really bad things” and wanted to go to jail.

Police arrived at the hospital and found Beldo with “bloodshot, watery eyes and alcohol on his breath.”

Beldo told police he “needed to go to jail” and later said he killed his two roommates in Babbitt, and that one could be found in the garage and another inside the house.

Police also observed what appeared to be multiple small, red, dried specks of blood on Beldo’s white shoes, and dried blood stains on his dark colored jacket and clothing.

Beldo identified the property owners and their address, and Duluth police notified Babbitt police of the situation.

While waiting for Babbitt police to respond, Beldo was placed in back of a Duluth squad car and told police multiple times that his roommates were dead, indicating “mother on the bed” and “father in the garage.”  An officer asked Beldo how he got to Duluth, and he responded that he drove his roommates’ vehicle down after he murdered them.

After hearing from Duluth police, officers from both the Babbitt Police Department and St. Louis County Sheriff’s Department went to the Fir Circle home.

All the doors and garage were locked and some lights were on in the home, but no one answered the door.

A deputy shined his flashlight through the window of the garage, and discovered the motionless body of Clifford Johnson.

Officers forced entry into the garage and found him deceased with large amounts of blood underneath his body and head.

Inside the house, they found Christine Johnson deceased with injuries to her head, and a large pool of blood around her head.

Authorities later located a crowbar in a storage room in the garage and a hammer located on the south porch of the victims’ home.

Beldo had car keys belonging to a vehicle owned by the victims, and the Nissan Rogue was later located in western Duluth. Officers observed what appeared to be blood on the exterior of the vehicle.

A Bureau of Criminal Apprehension agent met with Beldo Sunday, and according to the complaint  Beldo said he had “no car and no income, beside food stamps,” and claimed that the victims wanted his Section 8 voucher and food stamps.

Beldo also allegedly told police “I killed them, nothing I can say.”

According to the Star-Tribune, Court records in Minnesota show that Beldo has been in trouble with the law for nearly three decades. In that time, he has been convicted 12 times for disorderly conduct, three times for domestic assault and once each for drunken driving, indecent exposure, fleeing police, property damage and making obscene or harassing phone calls.

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