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Man Arrested In Connection With Murder Of Bartender He Was Seen Getting Cozy With After Her Body Is Found Buried On His Property

Rick Peterson had conflicting accounts of what happened the night he was seen with Amanda Jo Vangrinsven after the two left an VFW hall in Isanti, Minnesota, police said. 

By Kevin Dolak
Richard Melvin Peterson Pd

A Minnesota man has been arrested this week in connection with the death of a bartender with whom after her body was found buried in his yard.

Richard Melvin Peterson, 37, was arrested on Tuesday amid a probable cause murder probe in the killing of 32-year-old Amanda Jo Vangrinsven, the Isanti Police department said. The two were seen becoming affectionate with each other at a Veterans of Foreign Wars hall in Isanti where Vangrinsven worked as a bartender and Peterson, who is married, held a leadership position, according to a police warrant.

“Amanda and Rick mutually showed a public display of affections as they kissed one another,” the arrest warrant reads. 

According to police, Peterson told individuals at the hall that he planned to drive Vangrinsven home; the two then were seen at the Dugout Bar and Grill in Bethel later that night where they each had two more drinks, police said. But Vangrinsven did not turn up at home, according to her mother, or at work the following day. 

Peterson, who had been undergoing treatment at a psychiatric facility, had conflicting accounts of what happened that night, according to the warrant. One account indicated that he’d dropped Vangrinsven off at a park near the hall where she worked as she was unable to recall her home address, investigators said. 

On Aug. 10, a multi-agency law enforcement force searched the property in the 300 block of NW. 261st Avenue in Athens Township, where, according to a court filing, they discovered a patch of recently plowed over land. 

“Numerous areas of ground had been disturbed the day after Amanda’s disappearance,” the court filing states. Law enforcement officials indicated that they had multiple cadaver dogs check the property and had searched a pond on the farmland.

After digging into the patch, Vangrinsven’s body was discovered. She had been shot in the head, according to the Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office, Isanti police said

Anna Peterson confirmed to police that her husband had been turning over dirt on the property, according to the warrant, and added that he’d told her he washed his clothes after falling in the pond while she was away. She asked for privacy in a social media post this week.

“My heartfelt sympathy and prayers go out to Amanda’s family and friends,” she wrote, the New York Post reported. “The individual who she was last seen with is no longer in the community and is being held in a locked mental health facility. I am actively cooperating and will continue to cooperate with all law-enforcement agencies. I please request privacy for my family and myself.”

Peterson remained in the mental health facility until was booked into jail around 3 p.m. on Tuesday. It is unclear if he has an attorney who is able to speak on his behalf.

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