Gambling debts may have caused a former Chisholm resident to shoot his wife to death in their Blaine, Minn., home July 21.
Gary Howard Tomassoni, 47, was charged Tuesday in Anoka County District Court with one count of second degree intentional murder. He is being held in the Anoka County Jail on $1 million bail.
Gary Tomassoni is a distant cousin of Sen. David Tomassoni, DFL-Chisholm.
"I know who he is," David Tomassoni said. "What I know of him, he seemed like a nice guy. This is totally unexpected."
According to the criminal complaint, Gary Tomassoni has acknowledged that the couple had suffered financial problems because of his gambling, which he estimated cost him between $40,000 and $50,000 in losses in the previous year. In a lockbox in the house authorities found a $500,000 term life insurance policy on Tomassoni's wife, Helen, 45.
Also in the lockbox was the .32 caliber semi-automatic pistol that authorities allege Gary Tomassoni used to shoot his wife twice in the back of the head.
According to the Blaine Police Department, officers responded to the couple's home shortly after 5 a.m. Saturday in response to a 911 call from the couple's 14-year-old son, who reported that an intruder had shot his mother.
Officers found Helen Tomassoni lying face down in her bed. She "appeared to be suffering from a gunshot wound to the back of her head," the criminal complaint said.
She was pronounced dead at the scene. The autopsy found that she had been shot twice. One bullet grazed her skull, but the other had entered and lodged in her skull.
According to the criminal complaint, Gary Tomassoni initially told officers he had fallen asleep on the couch and awoke to what he though was a firecracker. He later told officers he heard someone say "Give me money" about the time he heard the shot. He said he went to the bedroom and found his wife, kneeling on the bed holding the back of her head. He claimed she said her head hurt.
A search of the home and neighborhood conducted by officers from several law enforcement agencies, including K-9 units and a Minnesota State Patrol helicopter, failed to find a suspect. There was no sign of forced entry, and the fresh dew outside the house appeared undisturbed.
In the house, officers found one spent .32 caliber shell casing on the floor of the bedroom, and what appeared to be blood deposits and pieces of blue gloves in several locations throughout the house, the complaint said.
In a downstairs filing cabinet officers found what appeared to be blood deposits on documents and on a small lockbox. Inside the lockbox was a .32 caliber semi-automatic pistol, a spent .32 caliber casing, torn blue gloves and the life insurance policy on Helen Tomassoni.
Investigators also found what appeared to be blood on the washing machine and on clothes and keys to the lockbox that were in the washer.
"The keys also had presumed blood on them," the complaint said.
The couple's son told investigators he was awakened by a sound that could have been a gunshot. He got up to use the bathroom. As he left the bathroom, his father told him to call 911 "because an intruder had just killed Ms. Tomassoni," the complaint said.
The son later told investigators that his father "could have had enough time to go downstairs and put a gun away" before telling him to call 911, the complaint said.
Prosecuting attorney Paul Lee Young declined to comment on the case. Tomassoni's attorney, Jennifer Pradt, said she couldn't talk about the case until she had more information.
Tomassoni's next court appearance is scheduled for Aug. 23.