The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

July 28, 2009

Mears pursuing custody

In wake of Michaela Widmer's death, Darnell Mears wants to be dad to Kassandra Brown, 4

ST PETER — Darnell Mears concedes he’s not the father of Kassandra Brown, the 4-year-old girl whose mother was murdered in St. Peter last weekend.

But Mears — who was to marry Michaela Widmer, Kassandra’s mother, in August — says he’s the only dad the little girl has ever known, and he plans to keep it that way.

Kassandra is in the custody of her grandfather at the moment. Mears, however, is pursuing formal adoption of the girl. Mears says he’s been in the girl’s life since she was 6 months old.

Michaela Widmer, 22, was stabbed to death Saturday, her body found in a Kasota cemetery. Investigators suspect she was killed by Ricardo Taber, 53, a neighbor in the same mobile home park. His body was found in his home where he apparently commit suicide by ingesting a substance. The Ramsey County medical examiner is awaiting results of toxicology tests.

Friends and family say Taber, who apparently had an obsession with Widmer, persuaded her to accompany him to Mankato. He’d apparently told Widmer he won money in the lottery and wanted to give her some. The trip to Mankato, Mears said, was to deposit a check into Widmer’s bank account. Kassandra went along with them.

Late Friday, Kassandra was found alone at a boat launch at Lake Emily. The next day, after Mears told authorities of his suspicions, they found Taber’s body inside his home. And on Sunday, Widmer’s body was located.

The full story has yet to emerge, but as it does, Mears, 31, a self-employed handyman who lived with Widmer for four years, is getting support from his neighbors. Some of them were also friends with Tyler Heilman, the Kasota man shot and killed by a Le Sueur County Sheriff’s deputy July 20.

Mears, in fact, said that one week before Heilman died, he watched a few houses down as Heilman taught his little boy how to ride a bike.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News