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In Cromwell, a search for answers, suspect

Because of the remote location of the double homicide in rural Cromwell over the weekend, Carlton County Sheriff Kelly Lake said Monday night she's "fairly certain" it wasn't a completely random crime.

Cromwell reaction
B&B Market co-owner John Lind reminisces about Kim Schmitz -- known as Kimmer at the store to keep her and Lind's wife, Kim, separate -- on Monday. Schmitz worked as a meat cutter at the market for several years. "She was a good person. The customers loved her," Lind said. "We're all just in shock about this." (Steve Kuchera / skuchera@duluthnews.com)

Because of the remote location of the double homicide in rural Cromwell over the weekend, Carlton County Sheriff Kelly Lake said Monday night she's "fairly certain" it wasn't a completely random crime.

But, she said she couldn't rule it out entirely as they have no suspects and no one in custody.

"We're actively investigating it and hoping for a big break," she said.

Lake is holding a news conference on the investigation at 3:30 p.m. today in Carlton.

Friends, family and co-workers identified the couple who were killed in their home as Kim Schmitz and Tom Holm. Law enforcement officials have not released their names because they are waiting for a 100 percent positive identification, Lake said. She said a friend visiting the male victim on Sunday was the one who found him dead inside the home and called authorities. Law enforcement found the woman's body when they arrived at about 3 p.m.

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The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is assisting local law enforcement officers and investigation continued Monday night at the couple's home on Krogh Road in Red Clover Township, about two miles northeast of Cromwell.

One of the few things they know is that both victims were seen alive on Saturday, Lake said. Authorities are still confirming the specific times each was last seen alive and are working to determine exactly when they died.

They're also hoping for information about the male murder victim's pickup, which was found burning the day before the bodies were found.

The St. Louis County Sheriff's Office found the pickup -- a red 1999 Chevrolet Z-71 extended-cab, short-box pickup with a red topper with racing and hunting stickers in the windows -- about 10:25 p.m. Saturday when it was reported on fire in the road near the 7700 block of Albert Road in the Saginaw area. Authorities are asking anyone who might have seen it before or after it was burned to contact them.

Schmitz worked as a meat cutter at B&B Market in Cloquet for the past six or seven years, store co-owner John Lind said. Tom Holm worked in construction for a Duluth union, said his son, Thomas Holm Jr.

"She was a good person. The customers loved her," Lind said of Schmitz. "We're all just in shock about this."

Schmitz's ex-husband, Raymond, said Kim and Tom Holm have lived in the Cromwell area their entire lives. Raymond Schmitz said his ex-wife was "a really good person. She was a good mother."

He said her interests included hunting and fishing. "She had a lot of friends," he said.

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Neither Schmitz nor Lind said they have been told any details about the homicides.

Holm Jr., 33, who lives in Missoula, Mont., said he was still shocked after being told that his father was dead.

"He was a good father," Holm said. "He's always been supportive. I'm just at a lack of words."

Cromwell, with a population of 203, is about 23 miles southwest of Cloquet on Highway 210. The weekend's double homicide had the community reeling Monday.

"I'm not comfortable with it at all," said Kristie Allenspack, an employee at the Cromwell Country Inn. "I have children; that makes it harder."

Charlie Carlson of Cromwell, who was a friend of Holm's for about 20 years, said: "He's just a hardworking guy who did everything in the community for people."

Holm's and Schmitz's house is "off the beaten path," on a back road near the Fond du Lac Indian Reservation, Carlson said.

"They were well-liked and very well-known people," Carlson said. "I can't explain it. He didn't have nothing of value. He was just a working man."

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The Holm family has been hit by tragedy in the past, Carlson said. "His older brother was murdered years ago."

Cheryl Dahl, a waitress at the Cromwell Country Inn, echoed Carlson's comment about the family's history. "We all really feel sorry for Snookie (Louise), his mother. She's a real nice lady; she does foster care. We feel bad because she has to deal with one more thing."

She said Snookie Holm's daughter-in-law, Angelique Holm, married to Tom Holm's brother, Robert, died recently of cancer.

Several customers at the family restaurant remembered the couple as friendly people.

"They were a couple of the first people I met when I moved up here" in 1992, said Jay Krippner. He called the killings "very shocking in a small community."

Krippner was having breakfast with several acquaintances, including Bob Manninen.

"It's a shame. They were very good people," Manninen said. "She worked at the B&B Market and if you needed anything, you could call her up and she would bring it to the house."

Steve Risacher, business representative for Hermantown-based Carpenters Union Local 361, said Tom Holm had been a member of the local for more than 10 years, working for local contractors.

"He was a good member," Risacher said. "He was a real good carpenter through the years."

Risacher said Holm had come to him a couple of weeks ago looking for work. "That's the cyclical nature of what we're doing," Risacher said "That's not unusual."

Risacher lives between Cromwell and Wright, and he said the news spread through the community on Sunday evening.

"It's very hard," he said. "It's so crazy. We were at open gym last night and heard it through my daughter's texting. ... There are a lot of small-town rumors."

Are people frightened?

"I know I am. ... I know that I didn't sleep well last night."

How to help

Authorities are asking anyone who was in the Albert Road area on Saturday who noticed any vehicles or people that seemed out of place or suspicious near the home of Kim Schmitz and Tom Holm to call the Carlton County Sheriff's Office at (218) 384-3236.

News Tribune staff writer John Lundy and city editor Brandon Stahl contributed to this report.

Double murder investigation
A Minnesota State Patrol trooper blocks Krogh Road in Carlton County's Red Clover Township shortly after sunrise on Monday. Investigators with the Carlton County Sheriff's Office and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension were at a house along the remote road investigating the deaths. (Steve Kuchera / skuchera@duluthnews.com)

Related Topics: CRIMEPOLICE
Steve Kuchera is a retired Duluth News Tribune photographer.
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