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Man Allegedly Stabbed Councilwoman Mom To Death With Butcher Knife Before Dismembering Her

Medical examiners needed dental records to identify Rose Johnson.

By Dorian Geiger
Eric Jordahl Rose Johnson Pd

A Minnesota city councilwoman was brutally murdered — and dismembered — last week, allegedly by her own son.

Rose Johnson, 62, was attacked in a bedroom of her Big Lake home by her son Eric Leif Jordahl sometime during the night last week, according to a criminal complaint obtained by Oxygen.com

County authorities were dispatched to the family’s home shortly around 9 a.m. on July 23. Johnson’s husband, who had returned home from work that morning, was confronted by Jordahl, who claimed “he killed his mother,” the complaint stated.

By the time detectives arrived, Jordahl was allegedly “covered in blood.” County officers also found “human tissue” and a butcher knife on the kitchen table. 

Johnson’s body was recovered from the basement of the residence. She had sustained “obvious facial trauma,” the complaint stated. Her injuries were so severe dental records were later required to identify the councilwoman, authorities said. A medical examiner concluded she had suffered sharp and blunt force trauma to her head and body. 

Jordahl, who waived his Miranda rights, allegedly confessed to the gruesome killing. 

He told Sherburne County Sheriff’s Office investigators that Johnson had caught him in her bedroom during the night. Johnson demanded he leave and “told him to go back to sleep,” according to the complaint. 

Instead, Jordahl allegedly admitted to punching his mother “repeatedly” before retrieving a butcher knife and stabbing and biting Johnson “multiple times.” Before Jordahl’s father returned home, the 20-year-old also allegedly “removed part of the body” and placed it in the kitchen.

Jordahl has been charged with two counts of second degree murder. 

Johnson’s murder has sent shockwaves through the community of Big Lake, which is located roughly 40 miles northwest of Minneapolis. Her slaying marks the first homicide in the small city this year.

“It’s incredibly rare you have crimes of violence here, especially to this degree,” Big Lake’s Police Chief, Joel Scharf, told Oxygen.com.

Johnson worked closely with police on a number of civic issues in her capacity as city councilwoman. She was a “well-known and respected” community figure, Scharf said.

“It had an emotional impact on everybody,” he described. “For our officers on patrol, it was so common to see her out walking the pathways around the lake and she always had a big wave and a smile for them.”

Johnson was appointed councilwoman in the small city of Big Lake in January 2019. She was described by colleagues as a “compassionate” and “tenacious” local leader, who loved the outdoors, particularly nearby lakes, which she fought to preserve. 

“She was very passionate about protecting their water quality,” city administrator Clay Wilfahrt told Oxygen.com. “She was the ideal councilwoman… she always put the community before herself in everything that she did.” 

Wilfahrt added that Johnson was “one of the most intelligent people” he’d ever met. 

“Even though we oftentimes disagreed about things, she would always try to seek understanding rather than argument,” he explained.

Johnson’s term was set to expire at the end of this year. 

Jordahl is currently being held on a $1.5 million bond at a Sherburne County jailhouse, according to officials. He’s scheduled back in court on Aug. 11. Jordahl, who doesn't appear to have a criminal history, could face up to 40 years in prison if he’s found guilty in his mother’s slaying.

Jordahl’s attorney, Gary Leistico, didn’t immediately respond to Oxygen.com’s request for comment on Wednesday.