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Pursuit of infamous 1977 cold case goes through Duluth

Richard Ireland has been charged in Ramsey County in the 1977 slaying of a St. Paul man

A Minneapolis man who had been living and possibly working in Duluth has been charged in connection with a mutilation murder that occurred 32 years ago in St. Paul.

Richard Hubert Ireland Jr., 59, was charged Tuesday with second-degree murder in the 1977 slaying of a man who was tied up, stabbed and mutilated in his own apartment.

Authorities say they linked Ireland to the 1977 slaying of Martin Shemukenas, 30, of St. Paul using DNA evidence.

Shemukenas was found on May 11, 1977, naked and slumped facedown on his couch. His hands were bound behind his back with an electrical cord and his mouth was taped shut, according to the criminal complaint in Ramsey County.

He had been sexually assaulted, repeatedly stabbed, his throat was cut, and a two-tined fork was sticking out of his chest. Police also said he had been castrated, according to the criminal complaint. Shemukenas bled to death from numerous cuts, an autopsy found.

The case had grown cold until it was revived in 2008 with DNA processing of evidence from the crime scene. Because Ireland had been a suspect in the case in the early 1980s, investigators sought him out to get a DNA sample to compare, said Sgt. Paul Schnell, a St. Paul police spokesman.

With the help of Duluth police, St. Paul investigators found Ireland in Duluth several months ago. With a search warrant, they got a saliva sample from him, Schnell said.

A crime lab analysis matched the sample with DNA on scissors from the crime scene, he said.

On Friday, St. Paul and Duluth police went to the man's residence in Duluth to possibly arrest him.

"When they got there, they found he had left Duluth; we believe shortly after the search warrant for the DNA sample," Schnell said.

How long Ireland had been in Duluth is unclear, Schnell said adding that investigators are trying to track his whereabouts and activities over the years.

While in Duluth, Ireland is believed to have been associated with a treatment facility, possibly volunteering, working there or trying to get a job there, Schnell said.

In the 1980s, Ireland was convicted of attempted criminal sexual conduct for touching a teenage boy in a hot tub in 1982.