ST. PETER — Fewer than four hours after he was arrested while in the act of attempting to stab his mother to death, 49-year-old Burton James Ewing Jr. told investigators he was trying to finish a brutal job he had started 14 years and one day earlier.
It was May 7, 1998, when Ewing used a hammer to beat his younger sister to death at her home in Shoreview. He had planned to kill his mother, Marlys Olson, that day, but she wasn't home.
Ewing was found not guilty by reason of insanity and spent the next 14 years being treated at the Minnesota Security Hospital in St. Peter.
On May 8, 2012, after what prosecutors called methodical planning, Ewing decided to try again.
Olson had traveled to St. Peter to visit him and offered to take him on a picnic to celebrate a staff recommendation that he be placed on supervised release from the hospital. They had enjoyed off-campus visits three or four times prior to that day, usually going out to eat and shopping in Mankato. Olson said she didn't have any reason to suspect that day would be different.
She thought the plan was to enjoy a couple of steaks at a park in St. Peter before driving to Mankato to buy a new bike seat. Olson didn't realize Ewing had other plans for the old, rusty seat he brought with him and kept in the front seat of her PT Cruiser. It also didn't seem odd he also brought a carefully packed duffel bag with him, even though he hadn't done that during earlier visits, she said. And Olson didn't know Ewing had attempted to close his bank account at the hospital but was only allowed to leave with the daily limit of $135.
Except for a quicker than usual walk to her car to leave the St. Peter Regional Treatment Center campus, Olson said she didn't realize anything was wrong with her son until he attacked her. He had asked her to stop at Seven Mile Creek County Park on the way to Mankato. He said he wanted to show her a boat landing hidden from Highway 169 by a thick stretch of willow trees.