About five minutes after allegedly shooting his sleeping father in the head, Jonas David Nelson stepped outside the small two-story house on five acres southeast of Montgomery and called 911 to report a murder.
When Le Sueur County sheriff’s deputies Todd Lau and Scott O’Brien arrived at the house at 10604 Le Sueur Ave. just after 11 p.m. Monday, Nelson was waiting outside in his father’s pickup truck and said someone else shot his father.
He told the deputies 47-year-old Richard Nelson was inside the house lying on the living room floor. The deputies went inside and found Richard Nelson’s body, his head on a pillow and his body covered with a blanket.
Detective Bruce Collins arrived at the house about 45 minutes later. In addition to finding a single gunshot wound to Richard Nelson’s head, he also found what looked like a bullet hole in the lower right corner of a glass patio door. He found a gun case with multiple firearms in an adjacent room, according to a criminal complaint charging 18-year-old Jonas Nelson with second-degree murder.
Jonas Nelson told Collins he was in his bedroom on the second floor watching television when he heard what he thought was a gunshot breaking a glass window. It was about 2:40 a.m. Tuesday, and what would have been Richard Nelson’s birthday,
At first Nelson told the investigators he didn’t know what to do after he walked downstairs, found his father and saw his “brains were splattered all over the floor and pillow.”
“As the conversation continued, Nelson explained that his dad was blaming his mother for the divorce when actually it was his dad’s fault for his mother leaving him,” the complaint said.
He told the investigators things had been “weird” since he moved back. He also described his father as being “harsh” with religious views that “screwed him up as a parent,” the complaint said. The past month had been rough because his father was acting like a “probation officer.”
Richard Nelson already had left the house Monday morning when Jonas Nelson got up at about 8:30 a.m. He said he added a load of wood to the wood burner in the living room because the furnace wasn’t working properly. His dad returned home at about 1:30 p.m. and questioned him about keeping the wood burning furnace going, the complaint said.
He went up to his bedroom and didn’t come back downstairs until dinner time. Nelson told Collins and Anderson he went back up to his bedroom to watch movies after having something to eat. He said his dad often slept in the living room because it was cold in his bedroom. It was about 10:30 p.m. when he heard the “popping noise.”
The investigators eventually told Nelson the crime scene was going to be extensively investigated and they would figure out what happened. They also said it would be best for Nelson to tell the truth because it was going to come out anyway.
At that point Nelson allegedly told them “what happened in there was me.”
“Nelson explained that when he came downstairs to get some water, he saw his dad sleeping on the floor and he doesn’t know for sure why but he went into the gun cabinet and got one of the rifles and then ‘did it to him,’” the complaint said. “Nelson explained he got the tall silver bolt action 300 rifle from the gun cabinet, he got some cartridges from the drawer and the ‘took his time’ walking into the living room and stood in front of the stove and ‘took his life.’”
Nelson also told the investigators he had never been driven to rage before, but he “just snapped” because of the way his dad had been treating him. He said he thought about killing his father in his sleep while he was sitting upstairs, according to the complaint. He allegedly said he shot his father at close range and that he placed the two fired cartridges in a bucket in the basement. Although two shots were allegedly fired, it was determined that Richard Nelson had been shot once, the complaint said.
The investigators reported they asked Nelson how he felt about shooting his father.
“He replied that part of him feels good because he doesn’t have to deal with him, but the other part realizes his dad isn’t there anymore,” the complaint said.
When the hearing continued, Baxter set Nelson’s bail at $2 million. Singer sat directly behind him and squeezed the knee of her younger son as she listened to Lea ask the judge to release Nelson without bail. Lea explained that Jonas Nelson was home schooled, has had minimal employment and would live at his mother’s house if he were released.
“Frankly, you could set bail at $5,000 and he wouldn’t be able to come up with it,” Lea said while asking Baxter to set a lower bail amount.