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Minnesota wife accused of running over husband, dragging body into the woods

A 61-year-old Garrison woman is charged with first-degree murder and interference with a dead body, accused of dragging her husband's corpse into the woods to cover him up with tires and rims to keep coyotes from pulling him into the open.

After two days of testimony last week, a grand jury in Cass County (Minn.) District Court indicted Helene Teresa Mitchell-Abraham on both charges, as well as a prior count of second-degree murder she already faced in the Sept. 23, 2010, death of Wendall Wayne Abraham, her 64-year-old husband.

Mitchell-Abraham made her first appearance Monday on the new charges, according to the county's Attorney's Office.

County Attorney Christopher Strandlie said the additional charge of premeditated murder came after investigators uncovered more evidence. Court papers claim she intentionally struck and killed her husband with a van.

Police claim Mitchell-Abraham saw her husband walk behind the vehicle before she put the van into reverse and floored it, striking and killing him. She then allegedly used a rope to drag her husband's body into the woods and fled. His body was found more than two weeks later.

A story in the Brainerd Dispatch on Oct. 15, 2010, said the complaint filed with the original count of second-degree murder claimed that Mitchell-Abraham told her sister she and her husband had been fighting when he hit her with a chair. She told her sister she was "sick and tired of all the things" he had put her through, the story quotes the complaint as alleging.

The Dispatch report says police say in court records Mitchell-Abraham said she used tires and rims to cover up the body of her husband, which authorities could smell upon arriving at the front door of their home.

If convicted, the first-degree murder charge carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole. A conviction for second-degree intentional murder carries a maximum of 40 years in prison while a conviction for interfering with a dead body carries up to a year in jail.

At a Monday court hearing, a district judge set bail for Mitchell-Abraham at $500,000 if she meets certain conditions set by the court. Her next court appearance is scheduled for March 19, and a trial has been set for May 7.