CLOQUET, Minn. — A Cloquet man has been indicted on multiple charges of first-degree murder in the slayings of his pregnant girlfriend and her young son.

Sheldon James Thompson, 33, now faces life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted of the stiffest charges related to the March deaths of 27-year-old Jackie Ann Defoe and 20-month-old Kevin Shabaiash Jr.

Thompson was indicted by the grand jury last week on five separate first-degree murder charges, according to court records. He also faces three second-degree murder charges. Under Minnesota law, only a grand jury can levy first-degree murder charges.

The indictment charges Thompson with three counts of premeditated murder, which carries mandatory life without parole, and two counts of murder while committing domestic abuse with a past pattern of domestic abuse, which carries life with the possibility of parole after 30 years.

Authorities said the victims' bodies were discovered March 7 after a "concerned citizen" told police that Thompson made statements indicating he had killed DeFoe and her child.

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Officers found the victims' bodies in separate bedrooms at the residence, 1620 Locke Lane, on the Fond du Lac Reservation. They were concealed under blankets and clothing, and both doors had been screwed shut, according to court documents. DeFoe, who was 13 weeks pregnant, had been stabbed several dozen times, while Kevin died from blunt force injuries, an autopsy found.

Police said the investigation led to "a number of witnesses" who reported that Thompson had told them that he killed the mother and son.

Victoria Smith holds a picture of homicide victims Jackie DeFoe and her son, Kevin Shabaiash Jr., at a memorial march on the Fond du Lac Reservation in March 2020. (File / News Tribune)
Victoria Smith holds a picture of homicide victims Jackie DeFoe and her son, Kevin Shabaiash Jr., at a memorial march on the Fond du Lac Reservation in March 2020. (File / News Tribune)

Prosecutors previously indicated they would seek a longer-than-guideline sentence for Thompson if he is convicted, saying the victims were "particularly vulnerable" and were treated with "particular cruelty," among other aggravating factors. They also cited several past instances in which Thompson had allegedly hit or threatened the victims.

Defense attorney Kassius Benson in August said his client is innocent and demanded that his three counts of second-degree murder be dropped for a lack of probable cause.

Benson wrote that Thompson had "absolutely no motive" to kill either victim and that he was "looking forward to having a child" with Defoe. He hinted that "evidence exists that another person had motive to commit the murders charged in this case," though he did not elaborate on that assertion.

"Importantly, the prosecution has no eyewitnesses to the crime charged," Benson said. "No relevant physical or forensic evidence links Mr. Thompson to this crime. No murder weapon has been recovered linking Mr. Thompson to this crime. No evidence corroborates the unreliable statements of witnesses motivated by their own biases against Mr. Thompson and desires for rewards from the government."

Because the grand jury meets in secret, it's not clear what evidence was presented at the proceeding.

Thompson was to face an Oct. 28 hearing on his motion to dismiss the original charges. He's now slated to make a first appearance on the indictment Wednesday.

Thompson remains in the Carlton County Jail on $1 million bail.