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Minnesota Woman Charged In Man’s Fatal Stabbing, Arson Allegedly Said She Was ‘Burning A Witch’

Crystal Wilson allegedly confessed to stabbing a man before setting fire to his camper following an hours-long alcohol and methamphetamine binge. 

By Jax Miller
A police handout of Crystal Wilson

A woman in Minnesota is accused of violently murdering a man she allegedly believed to be a witch.

Crystal Marie Wilson, 42, was charged with murder after she allegedly fatally stabbed a man — whose name was not released — before setting fire to the victim’s camper sometime between July 17 and 18, according to a criminal complaint obtained by CBS Minneapolis affiliate WCCO-TV.

Officials with Itasca County and the Deer River Police Department responded to reports of a camper fire with a victim behind a bar in Deer River — about 100 miles northwest of Duluth, on the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe's reservation — around 9:30 a.m. of July 18, according to ABC Minneapolis affiliate KSTP-TV.

The victim was found west of his residence, having sustained multiple stab wounds and severe burns to the upper half of his body.

According to The Bemidji Pioneer, a postmortem examination revealed the victim died of multiple blunt, sharp and asphyxial injuries, including broken ribs.

The victim’s aunt — who also owned the bar behind which the camper was parked — said she last saw her nephew at her home around around 9:30 p.m. on July 17, when he said he was going to head home and to bed. At 6:30 a.m. on July 18, she told officials she “did not see anything out of the ordinary” until a neighbor told her to call 911 a short time later and then pulled her nephew's body out of his burning home.

Another witness — named in the complaint as K.M. — came forward on the morning of July 19, telling authorities that Wilson arrived at his home on Sunday morning, covered in blood, and asked to take a shower.

When the two watched the smoke rise from the victim’s camper, Wilson allegedly told K.M. that “he will not be able to hurt anybody again.”

K.M. allegedly provided police with bloody clothes, a pair of scissors and a notebook with the victim's name on it, which also was covered in blood.

Wilson was taken into custody around 4:30 p.m. that day, after she was seen exiting a wooded area west of the burning camper.

Wilson then allegedly confessed to investigators that she had attended the Mii Gwitch Mahnomen Days Pow Wow in neighboring Ball Club on July 17 after consuming alcohol and using meth earlier in the day, according to the complaint. She couldn’t recall when, exactly, she went to the camper — though it was some time after sunset.

By her own alleged admission, Wilson was there to obtain either meth or alcohol and may have used more drugs after she arrived.

According to the complaint, Wilson said she stabbed the man with a pair of scissors, believing the victim was preparing to attack her with a butcher knife.

“I just kept going,” police say Wilson answered when asked how many times she stabbed the victim. She allegedly used hand gestures for investigators to illustrate how she used her forearm to press on the man’s neck.

According to WCCO-TV, a butcher knife was not found on the scene, though a pair of needle-nose pliers were recovered.

Wilson allegedly said she stabbed the victim “multiple f------ times” on his chest, back, shoulder and head, according to the Pioneer, and punched and kicked him

According to WCCO-TV, authorities say she told them that she head-butted the victim and “pissed on him” before falling asleep or losing consciousness. 

When Wilson came to, she allegedly said the victim was cold to the touch and that she inserted her finger into one of the victim’s stab wounds “because the entire experience seemed surreal,” according to the complaint obtained by the Pioneer.

She allegedly admitted to then setting fire to the curtains and the bedding of the camper because she believed she was “burning a witch.”

According to the complaint, Wilson also said she had to hold her breath to escape the smoke.

Jail records reviewed by Oxygen.com show Wilson is charged with second-degree murder, while several news outlets report she is also charged with first-degree arson. She is booked at the Itasca County jail on $1 million bond ($500,000 conditional) and is due to appear in court on Aug. 3.

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