Weather Forecast


Motivation for Pohjonen murder-suicide unknown to authorities

Kathy and Kalen Pohjonen dance in an undated photograph from her Facebook page.

Ramsey County, Minn., authorities don't know why 21-year-old Kalen R. Pohjonen shot his young wife, and then himself.

"Our investigation has found nothing that is providing any indication of the motive or the reason for the tragedy," Randy Gustafson, public information officer for the Ramsey County Sheriff's Department, said Thursday morning.

Sheriff's deputies were sent to the couple's townhouse in Vadnais Heights Tuesday morning, Jan. 25, after a co-worker of 19-year-old Katherine M. (Quam) Pohjonen reported that she hadn't shown up for work for a couple of days.

The responding deputies reportedly looked through a window and saw the young couple dead inside.

The next day, authorities classified the deaths as a murder-suicide. The Ramsey County Medical Examiner's Office said both had died of gunshot wounds and the 9 mm handgun used in the shootings was found at the scene.

Gustafson said in a telephone call Thursday that the Medical Examiner's Office and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension had agreed with the sheriff's department's determination that Kalen Pohjonen was the shooter.

Katherine Pohjonen, who went by the name Kathy, would have been 20 years old on Thursday, Jan. 27.

Gustafson said no suicide note was found.

He said the sheriff's department's primary concern was finding out what happened. With that established, the department wouldn't be doing a "deep psychological" investigation into what motivated the shootings, he said.

Gustafson said there was no record of domestic disturbances at the Pohjonen residence.

A neighbor of the Pohjonens, Ryan Bynum, told the St. Paul Pioneer Press that they were "great" people.

Bynum said he had planned celebrate his birthday Friday night, Jan. 22, with Kalen, but stayed home because he was tired. He said his wife heard Kalen knock on their door at 3 a.m. Saturday, but she didn't go to the door.

Kathy, a 2009 graduate of Hudson High School, is the daughter of Lawrence and Susan Quam of North Hudson.

The Quam family issued a statement Wednesday saying the couple was dearly loved by families and friends.

"The family was close, and always got together to celebrate holidays and birthdays," the statement said. "We were touched and thankful for those who have reached out to us in this trying time. Kathy and Kalen will be missed and forever in our hearts and thoughts."

The Star-Observer hasn't talked to a member of the Quam family since the revelation that Kathy was killed by Kalen.

Kathy listed her parents, high school art teacher Jason Lund, and Kim and Andy Anderson as important adults in her life in a Star-Observer special section on Hudson High's 2009 graduates.

Kim Anderson is the mother of Kalen. She now reportedly lives in Buffalo, N.Y. His father resides in Superior.

For the newspaper, Kathy Pohjonen reported that she was a high school senior mentor, had a job at St. Croix Valley YMCA, and was planning to go to college to become a nurse.

She said she enjoyed "being around friends and family."

Her advice to underclassmen was, "Have fun, high school goes by fast."

The 80 friends on Kathy Pohjonen's Facebook page include a number of Hudson High School classmates.

"R.I.P, Kathy. I will always remember our boring days and boring projects in American Lit. And talking non-stop about Kalen and listening to your wedding plans. You were one of the kindest and most caring people I have ever met," one friend wrote on her wall.

"I used to call her chipmunk cheeks because she was ALWAYS smiling," wrote another.

Kalen was a member of Hudson High's class of 2007, but dropped out of school that year. That August, he enlisted in the Minnesota National Guard.

He was a member of an East St. Paul-based unit scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan in May.

According to the Wisconsin Circuit Court Access website, Kalen Pohjonen had his driver's license suspended for eight months and was ordered to undergo an assessment for chemical dependency after being convicted of drunken driving in October 2007. A second charge of causing injury while driving intoxicated was dismissed.

He also was found guilty of underage drinking in September 2006.

O'Connell Family Funeral Home of Hudson is handling the funeral arrangements for both Kathy and Kalen Pohjonen.

The place, date and time of the visitations and funerals are still pending.