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Two charged with stabbing man, then burning his truck

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Andre Verlin Anderson 2 / 3
Steven Robert Hager 3 / 3

Two men were arraigned Tuesday in State District Court in Duluth on charges that they lured a 22-year-old Hermantown man to a rural Rice Lake Township road, stabbed him a dozen times and stole his truck.

The alleged victim, identified in court documents only by his initials, C.J., suffered 12 knife wounds, resulting in a punctured lung and lacerations to the liver and kidney during the Aug. 19 attack along Hicken Road, according to criminal complaints filed Tuesday.

The two suspects, 27-year-old Andre Verlin Anderson of Hermantown and 39-year-old Steven Robert Hager of Duluth, each face five felony charges. After the attack, authorities said, the duo stole the man’s truck, which was later found ablaze in West Duluth.

Both men face charges of aiding and abetting attempted second-degree murder, first-degree assault, third-degree arson, aggravated first-degree robbery and theft of a motor vehicle.

Judge Eric Hylden set bail at $400,000 for Anderson and $350,000 for Hager. They are scheduled to appear in court again on Sept. 17.

According to the criminal complaints:

C.J. told a St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office investigator that he picked up the two men in West Duluth to go retrieve some property in Rice Lake Township. He said he knew one man, Steve, as an acquaintance, but did not know the other man.

The alleged victim drove the two men to the 4000 block of Hicken Road. The man he did not know claimed he had thrown some items into the ditch earlier in the day, including a pack of cigarettes containing some “dope.”

The three men were searching the area when the unknown man began stabbing C.J. in the back. The victim said he frantically ran into the woods and hid as the two suspects quickly jumped into his truck and took off in the opposite direction.

C.J. walked to a nearby residence to get help, and was eventually transported to the hospital. He gave a brief statement to police, telling them he was attacked by a man he knew only as “Steve” and another man.

Meanwhile, the alleged victim’s truck, a 2000 Chevrolet Silverado, was found at 53rd Avenue West and Wadena Street, destroyed as the result of an arson fire.

Through subsequent investigation, officers learned that “Steve” lived at 316 N. 47th Ave. W. They were also given a phone number that was believed to be associated with Hager. The number, ultimately, was determined to belong to Anderson, according to the complaint.

Investigators arrived at the address, where Hager answered and appeared nervous, shaking and speaking quickly. Hager stated that he had been home all night.

Deputies told Hager that the stabbing victim reported being with him. Hager admitted that he had C.J. pick him up around 8 p.m., but claimed that C.J. was “acting crazy and was high on drugs” so he got out. He said he was at home the rest of the evening.

As Hager was being taken in for an interview, he repeatedly stated that he had witnesses and didn’t do anything. He blurted out: “Just because I was in the truck doesn’t mean I killed anyone.” At the police station, Hager declined to give a statement.

Investigators continued to search for Anderson, and learned that he was at the Duluth Detoxification Center. Duluth police officers arrested him without incident. Anderson declined to give a statement.

C.J. was shown photo lineups including both Hager and Anderson. He identified Hager as the man he knew as “Steve,” and Anderson as the man who stabbed him.