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An Elderly Minnesota Landlady Was Found Suffocated in Her Rural Home. Then, a Veteran Admitted He Killed Her.

minnesota vet
Source: St. Louis County Jail; MEGA

Mar. 18 2024, Published 10:02 a.m. ET

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A former veteran and drug user admitted to killing his elderly landlord. Now, he's faces decades behind bars.

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Recently, Blake Andrew Stangel pleaded guilty to second-degree intentional murder and first-degree aggravated sale of a controlled substance. He entered his plea in a Minnesota courtroom.

The plea deal called for a sentence of slightly more than 28 years, or 340 months, according to the St. Louis County Attorney’s Office.

Stangel was found guilty of killing Courtney Fenske, 71, in November 2017. She was his former landlord.

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“The County Attorney’s Office would like to express its deepest condolences to the family of Ms. Fenske for their loss,” officials said when announcing the plea.

Stangel told a judge he didn’t remember tying up the victim in her rural Minnesota home, which led to her strangulation death, according to the Duluth News Tribune. The killer told the court he was using methamphetamine at the time, and it impaired his ability to recall facts.

Elderly Victim
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But Stangel admitted that his DNA was found on the victim and there was enough evidence to convict.

On Nov. 28, 2017, Fenske was found dead in her home, according to the News Tribune. A mail worker said she had not collected her mail and there was a strong odor coming from the residence.

When police arrived, they found the victim on a floor with a significant amount of trash around her. A pair of thermal pants was over her head and secured with a cloth.

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DNA was taken from several suspects but did not match. Then a confidential informant said Stangel might have been involved, according to the News Tribune. That led to a positive DNA match.

The defense said that Stangel was a military veteran who was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, according to the report.


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