Vasquez investigation: Fact v. Fiction

To the editor:

My name is Eric Schwarzrock, I was the Brown County Sheriff’s Office Lead Investigator for the Miguel Vasquez 1st degree murder investigation. The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and other area law enforcement agencies also assisted. The State Attorney General’s Office, and Brown County Attorney’s Office prosecuted the case; and supported to efforts of the investigation team. Our success was due to the collaborative effort of all involved entities.

Recently, some statements regarding this case have been presented as part of a political campaign. These statements are either intentionally misleading, or uninformed. Either way, they are factually incorrect. I will offer firsthand, factual information regarding the investigation that is contradictory to those statements.

Campaign Statement: “On the night of the incident, Mr. Vasquez was brought in for questioning.”

Facts: Vasquez himself called 911. He reported being assaulted to unconsciousness and woke up inside his van, which was on fire. Vasquez was transported by Ambulance to the Sleepy Eye Medical Center, then on to Hennepin County Medical Center for burns and blunt trauma injuries. At HCMC, he provided a statement to myself and a BCA Special Agent. He was not “brought in for questioning.”

Campaign Statement: “I know that Vasquez was clearly the main suspect and that he was eventually that night released for lack of probable cause.”

Facts: Vasquez believed that we saw him as an assault victim, not a homicide suspect. Because of this, Vasquez was cooperative that night, and during follow-up interviews. Before Vasquez became our primary suspect we needed to determine the authenticity of his assault claims. This required waiting for valuable pieces of evidence (medical and cellular records) to become available. Vasquez was admitted to HCMC as a patient, where he remained until medically discharged. He wasn’t “released for lack of probable cause.”

Campaign Statement: “Chief Deputy Seidl released the children back to Miguel Vasquez.”

Facts: That night, SEPD officers located the children at a family member’s residence in Sleepy Eye. SEPD officers and BCA agents personally viewed the children and determined there was no imminent threat to their wellbeing. A BC Crime Victim’s Advocate was assigned to the victim’s family; so was a Committee Against Domestic Abuse Advocate. These resources ensured the family’s interests were represented during the investigation and trial. We remained in communication with them throughout the investigation. The decision to not place the children into protective custody was made collectively by the investigation team, myself included.

My condolences again to the victim’s family and friends. They should not have to relive this tragedy for the purposes of political gain.

Eric Schwarzrock