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Crime News Domestic Violence

Ex-Army Medic with “Kind Heart” Allegedly Killed by Boyfriend Days After His Jail Release

“This guy was just a danger,” David Bergeson said of his daughter Danicka Bergeson’s boyfriend, Matthew Brenneman, who was previously jailed for attacking her. 

By Dorian Geiger
Killer Motive: What Drives People To Kill?

The boyfriend of a former Army medic is accused of murdering the woman days after he was released from jail for previously attacking her, according to reports.

Matthew Brenneman, 39, was officially charged with two counts of second-degree murder last week in the July slaying of Danicka Bergeson, who was 33, according to The Star Tribune. He was arrested on July 10 after law enforcement discovered Brenneman in an apartment where Bergeson’s body was located.

Authorities suspect Brenneman, of Hopkins, Minnesota, carried out Bergeson’s slaying some time between June 29 and July 8.

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On July 8, police were dispatched to Bergeson’s Hopkins apartment after her building manager notified authorities that yelling and other disturbing noises were heard coming from the unit. Inside, officers found Bergeson’s body wrapped in numerous blankets, as well as a comforter, in her apartment bedroom, Minneapolis television station KARE reported. 

At the scene, authorities also encountered "an overwhelming odor of bleach," according to court documents cited by The Star Tribune. Brenneman was located in the bathroom and was later rushed to hospital for apparently ingesting bleach himself. Authorities quickly learned Brenneman was violating a protective order by being at Bergeson’s apartment, whom he was accused of twice assaulting earlier this year.

A mugshot of Matthew Brenneman

Investigators also recovered a note from the kitchen table that investigators say Brenneman wrote, in which he confessed to the heinous act, and appeared to express remorse, according to court records. He also proclaimed his love for his dead girlfriend in the disturbing letter.

“I’m very sad and remorseful about all of this, but it is what it is,” Brenneman allegedly wrote in a draft of the note that was found in the garbage, court documents stated. “I blacked out and lost control and sadly hurt a woman for the first time in my life.”

Police said the 39-year-old had visible bruising and swelling to his cheek, as well as “distinctive scratches to his back consistent with fingernail scrapes." A set of blood-soaked men’s clothes were also seized from another bedroom in the apartment.  

According to an autopsy, Bergeson’s corpse had likely been decomposing in her home for days prior to police making the morbid discovery. She sustained "significant bruising and abrasions" to her face, arms, torso and other areas on her body, court documents stated. Her cause of death hasn’t been released by officials. Oxygen.com has reached out to the Hennepin County Medical Examiner's Office for additional information. 

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At the time of Bergeson’s slaying, Brenneman was in violation of a protective order and had been barred by a court from seeing his girlfriend due to prior instances of domestic violence. 

“This guy was just a danger,” Danicka Bergeson’s father, David Bergeson, told The Star Tribune. “There was a history there.”

Brenneman was first arrested in April for allegedly hitting and biting Bergeson in a drunken rage. He was jailed but was released the following day, KARE reported. He was arrested again the next month for strangling and hitting his girlfriend, whom he allegedly threatened to kill in a separate violent incident. Brenneman ultimately pleaded guilty in both cases and was scheduled to be sentenced in August. He was arrested for Bergeson's alleged murder 11 days after his release from jail.

"We often said we would dread this call because we almost felt we knew it was coming at some point because it repeated itself over and over," David added.

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Brenneman was also the subject of an unrelated protection order in 2021 after he allegedly forcibly held a woman down on a bed while intoxicated.  

Bergeson graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in animal science. She previously served in the U.S. army as a medic, according to KARE. 

David described his daughter as someone with a “very kind heart.” He noted that his family adopted Danicka at the age of nine after they’d fostered her for roughly three years. 

"She had been through a lot, in and out of foster care for most of her life, and had a traumatic upbringing, some scary stuff," he said.

Brenneman’s bail was set at $1.5 million, however, he remains in custody without bond pending sentencing on separate domestic abuse charges, according to online jail records obtained by Oxygen.com. It’s unclear if he immediately had retained legal representation to comment on his behalf.

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