UPDATE: Man arrested in Woodbury charged with second degree murderAlberto Prece Palmer, 23, was charged with second degree murder in Anoka County District Court Friday, where bail was set at $2 million.
By: Mike Longaecker and Riham Feshir, Woodbury Bulletin
Charges were filed against a man arrested in Woodbury who is accused of murdering a teenage prostitute.
Alberto Prece Palmer, 23, was charged with second degree murder in Anoka County District Court Friday, where bail was set at $2 million.
At a news conference Thursday, authorities alleged Palmer killed Brittany Charise Clardy, a St. Paul teenager who had gone missing Feb. 11 and wasn’t located until Feb. 21 when her body were discovered in the backseat of a car towed to a Columbia Heights impound lot.
The body was covered up by a variety of items including bedding, according to the criminal complaint, while Clardy’s pants, boots and two of her cell phones were missing.
Palmer was arrested at about 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 6, at 8614 Quarry Ridge Lane by a cadre of law enforcement agencies, including Woodbury police, after evidence led them to the townhome complex.
Anoka County Sheriff’s Office Cmdr. Paul Sommer said investigators were able to link Palmer to Clardy by analyzing her client list through the numerous pre-paid cellphones she had. The phones were inside the vehicle her body was found in, he noted.
The believed murder scene was a residential home in Brooklyn Park, Sommer said.
According to a criminal complaint filed by the Anoka County Attorney’s Office:
Officers executed a search warrant at 8416 Kentucky Avenue, Brooklyn Park, where they located “numerous areas of presumed blood in the residence.”
Officers also located blood in the hallway, down a stairway and in the garage and found a pair of black pants believed to be Clardy’s.
Authorities were told Palmer was staying at the Brooklyn Pak address for most of February, however, through “live tracking” of his cell phone, officers located him in the Woodbury address where he was arrested March 6.
During interviews with police, Palmer “has made some admissions,” Sommer said.
He allegedly said he contacted Clardy via Backpage, an online human trafficking site, and the two had sex, during which he reportedly choked her to unconsciousness.
Anoka County Attorney Tony Palumbo didn’t elaborate on Clardy’s turn to prostitution, but said online solicitation can lead to “a very, very dangerous situation.”
“It’s our belief that, unfortunately, the absolute worst happened to Brittany in this situation,” he said.
Court documents state Palmer killed Clardy with a hammer and the Medical Examiner’s Office indicated that the cause of death was attributed to multiple blows to the back of the head with some type of foreign object.
Authorities said after going missing on Feb. 11, Clardy’s mother contacted the St. Paul police department’s missing persons unit.
The car Clardy was found in – which was registered to her mother – was towed from Brooklyn Park to the Columbia Heights impound lot. A letter was sent by the towing company to Clardy’s mother.
Upon receiving the letter, Clardy’s mother notified the missing persons unit, which sent a detective to the lot, where her body was found behind the car’s passenger compartment, Sommer said.
The discovery left detectives “little to work with,” Sommer said, though they went to work to establish her “electronic footprints.”
First thought to be a “normal 18-year-old girl,” detectives discovered Clardy kept a life as a prostitute working through Backpage.com, Sommer said, adding that Palmer was among her clients.
Investigators then delved into her cellphones, which Sommer said helped narrow the suspect list.
That list eventually led to Palmer, who Sommer said had relatives and associates in Brooklyn Park and Woodbury.
It wasn’t clear whether Palmer made his permanent home in Woodbury.
Sommer declined to say when the two met or precisely when the murder occurred.
Palmer was arrested in Woodbury without incident and booked into Anoka County jail on several outstanding warrants from Georgia, including kidnapping, criminal sexual conduct, first-degree assault and two counts of false imprisonment.
The complaint states that authorities received reports alleging Palmer met a woman on Backpage in Chamblee, Georgia, had sex with her, beat her, bound her and held her overnight in a closet, and beat her again the next morning.
“He then wrapped her in a plastic container and carried her to the passenger compartment of a car and drove away with her,” according to the complaint.
The woman was eventually able to escape and call police, according to authorities. The investigation also identified two others from Backpage who identified Palmer as having sex with them and “violently assaulting them.”
Palmer’s next court appearance is set for April 10.