A woman's death, at first thought to be an accident, now appears to be a murder.
A man was arrested Friday night suspected of staging his girlfriend's death. Anoka County investigators believe it was a plot to make a murder look like a motorcycle accident.
The body of 28-year-old Natasha Waalen of Anoka was found on the road, next to a motorcycle, on the 16800 block of Tulip Street in Andover around 12:30 a.m. early Friday morning. But while it looked like an accident, authorities say her injuries were not like those from a crash.
On Saturday, investigators gathered more evidence at that scene while friends and family left flowers at a roadside memorial for Waalen.
"I miss you, Tasha," said Cindy Erickson, Waalen's mother, as she set several roses by a makeshift memorial near where Waalen's body was found.
Erickson said she believes her daughter's death is the final result of a long-term abusive relationship.
"Horrible, it's been a nightmare for her," Erickson said. "Many times she'd come to stay with me. A few times she went back, and he would never leave."
Waalen's sister, Tera Gilmore of New Brighton, is having a hard time believing the woman everyone knew as "Tasha" is gone.
Gilmore says, "She was a wonderful mother, sister, daughter, friend to many, many people and I always said I wish I had a little Tasha in me because she was always so carefree, outgoing, so much fun. She was just a great person to be around."
Suspecting something more than just a motorcycle accident, investigators searched Waalen's home in Anoka Friday, a house she shared with her boyfriend, the father of her four year old daughter, and arrested him for her death.
Gilmore chose not to talk about the suspect or his relationship with her sister, wanting only to focus on Tasha and the good person she was saying, "She started her own business as an acupuncturist, and just any kind of job she does, she does things to help people and make them feel better."
Gilmore says, "We all love Tasha so much and were all just doing our best to try to make it through this terrible, terrible event. We're just all just waiting for someone to wake us up from this nightmare."
At this point, family says the four-year-old daughter is being taken care of by the suspect's parents.
The 33-year-old suspect is being held in the Anoka County Jail. He could be charged as soon as Monday.
Waalen's family is in the process of setting up an educational fund for her daughter.
For more information, contact Dave Anderson or Stifel Nicolaus at 952-475-4515. You can also send donations to Stifel Nicolaus at 701 East Lake Street, Wayzata, MN 55391.
(Copyright 2008 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)