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Carlton County Sheriff Kelly Lake holds a news conference Tuesday announcing a $10,000 reward for information on who killed Tom Holm and Kim Schmitz last weekend near Cromwell. (Bob King / rking@duluthnews.com)

Reward offered in hunt for Carlton County killer

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The Carlton County Sheriff's Department is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the person or persons involved in the double homicide of Thomas Harold Holm and Kim Brown Schmitz, Sheriff Kelly Lake said at a news conference Tuesday afternoon.

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Authorities said they still have no suspects in the case after finding the bodies of Holm and Schmitz in their rural Cromwell home on Sunday. The reward money is coming from the Department of Public Safety through the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.

"We know someone has information that can lead us in the right direction," Lake said.

Lake also positively identified Holm and Schmitz, both 53, as the victims.

She couldn't give much more of a timeline about when the crimes occurred, but said Schmitz had gone to her job at B & B Market in Cloquet on Saturday and was there until 3 p.m. She said previously that Holm also had been seen alive on Saturday.

She said the cause of death will be released when autopsies being conducted in Ramsey County are complete -- probably within a few days.

Lake said she believes more than one person was involved in the killings. She couldn't recall a similar crime occurring in the area in more than 20 years.

Ashlie Jean, who works at the Black Jack Grill in Wright near Cromwell, said Tuesday that people, though still nervous, are talking more about wanting answers. She said she had heard about the $10,000 reward for information and thought it would help people come forward.

"Some people think if they give out information, they might be the next to go I guess," she said.

Vikki Amendola is a resident of rural Saginaw who's also hoping for a break in the case. She lives near the spot where Holm's truck was found on fire Saturday night.

She said she, her husband and her cousin awoke to a passer-by pounding on the windows of their house at 10:30 p.m. Saturday. The man was yelling that a truck was on fire nearby and Amendola said her husband and cousin drove to the location and called 911. She said the man stayed and gave a statement to law enforcement so she wasn't concerned that he had anything to do with it.

"I posted some pictures (on Facebook) of the burning truck," she said. "I wasn't worried about it until I started getting messages from people in Cromwell the next day -- asking about it."

Amendola said she thought she could see the tracks of another vehicle that could have pulled up to the spot where the pickup was parked.

Once firefighters started arriving, the tracks were quickly covered, so she said she couldn't be sure.

"I really wish there was something we could say or do," Amendola said. "I just feel terrible for the families."

Schmitz's older brother, Reed Abrahamson of rural Oakland, Ore., said Tuesday night that the news of his sister's death was "absolutely a great shock."

He said although he left Cromwell in the early 1970s, he kept in touch with Schmitz, talking to her once or twice a month.

"I'm not going to be able to talk about her -- it's too emotional," he said. "She was a terrific person. That's all I can say."

Some funeral arrangements for Holm and Schmitz were made Tuesday. For Holm, a visitation will be held from 11 a.m. until a 1 p.m. funeral service on Monday at Bethany Lutheran Church in Cromwell. A memorial service will be held for Schmitz at 11 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 22, at the Handevidt Funeral Home in Cloquet, with family receiving friends one hour before the service.

Anyone with information about this crime is asked to contact the Carlton County Sheriff's Office at (218) 384-3236.

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