RURAL RED LAKE COUNTY, Minn. – A camera tipped authorities to the whereabouts of a man wanted for murder and who had eluded police for more than three weeks.
Eric Reinbold, of Oklee, Minn., was apprehended around 12:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 4, at an old homestead in rural Red Lake County near County Road 1. A camera placed by U.S. Marshals detected Reinbold on Tuesday evening, and Marshals found him in a wooded area behind a grain bin. Sheriff's deputies from Red Lake County and Pennington County set up a cordon around the property.
Reinbold is charged with the murder of his wife, Lissette, who was found dead at a home near Oklee on July 9. Eric Reinbold has been declared the prime suspect in the case. He is being held in the Pennington County Jail in Thief River Falls.
A bail hearing has been set for Friday morning, Aug. 6, in Pennington County District Court in Thief River Falls. Reinbold also was being sought for violating the terms of his release from federal prison.
‘It affects everybody’
In Oklee, residents said they were relieved he had been caught.
“It was time to get it over with,” Tom Radniecki, who lives about a mile west of town, told the Herald. He and three other men who were nursing coffees at the Oklee Cafe on Wednesday afternoon broadly agreed that the Reinbold family are good eggs, and that they didn’t know Eric Reinbold particularly well. Radniecki said he did some construction work for Reinbold, and that he seemed like a normal person.
“I knew the family,” Bennet Larson, an Oklee resident, said, “but I never knew him.”
Bob Melby, another Oklee resident, said he feels bad for Reinbold’s family.
“Certainly, you feel sorry for the victim the most, but these other people who didn’t do it -- ” Melby said.
“-- It’s not something that happens in a vacuum,” Radniecki interjected. “It affects everybody.”
Camera footage was key
Authorities sought Reinbold for nearly a month.
“The community’s been on edge for about the last 25 days,” Mitch Bernstein, Red Lake County’s sheriff, said early Wednesday evening. “We were able to finally put that to bed last night.”
A sustained drought made it tough for dogs to pick up Reinbold’s scent, and particularly warm weather made searches with thermal imaging difficult. He popped up on a handful of trail cameras -- some owned by residents and some set up by the Marshals -- in the area around the homestead where he was eventually arrested.
More than once, a homeowner’s game camera would notice Reinbold, but the footage was hours or days old by the time the homeowner retrieved it from the camera’s SD card. Near the end of July, police searched the woods a mile or so north of the homestead and came up empty. Reinbold appeared in game camera footage taken in that same area about an hour afterward.
Other than the camera footage, the only evidence of Reinbold’s whereabouts was the occasional sign that someone had been inside -- or tried to break into -- an empty outbuilding, and the sudden absence of other trail cameras or the SD cards onto which they recorded footage.
Reinbold had popped up on cameras at the homestead on July 20, 22, and 25, Bernstein said, but he eluded searches there until Wednesday. The difference, Bernstein indicated, was a special team of marshals that was able to respond particularly quickly.
When Marshals arrested him, Reinbold was wearing a camouflage shirt and shorts, knee-high socks, hiking boots and a hat. He was carrying a jug of water and a blanket.
Bernstein said there’s no evidence he had outside help.
According to a criminal complaint, emergency crews responded around 9:15 a.m. July 9 to a home near Oklee, Minn. for a report of an unresponsive female.
When EMTs reached the driveway, they encountered a child on a bike who said his mother was laying on the ground and he was going to get his step-dad, later identified as Eric Reinbold, from his camper down the road.
The EMTs continued driving down the driveway and saw another boy standing outside the residence. One EMT saw Lissette Reinbold laying on the ground near a vehicle. The EMTs later requested law enforcement.
An EMT noticed a puncture wound on her neck, near her jaw, blood, a cell phone wedged under a tire, and that Lissette Reinbold’s sandals were off.
An autopsy conducted on July 10, revealed that Lissette Reinbold “suffered multiple sharp force injuries to her neck, torso and upper extremities.”
“The medical examiner provisionally determined cause of to be exsanguination due to multiple sharp force injuries due to assault and the manner of death to be homicide,” the complaint said
Another EMT spoke to a child at the residence who said he did not know what happened. He last saw his mother the night before and he knew she was going to work around 8 a.m. that morning.
In a subsequent interview, the child said he woke up around 8-8:30 that morning and saw that his mother’s vehicle was still there. He looked outside and saw his mother by the vehicle; her face and hands had blood on them.
One of the children called their grandfather, who in turn called 911.
Sometime after that, the boy’s brother left to go to Eric Reinbold’s camper, about a half mile from the residence, and then the ambulance arrived.
Officers found three children inside the camper, but Eric Reinbold was not there, according to the criminal complaint. The two children who spent the night in the camper with Eric Reinbold said that when they woke up the morning of July 9, he was gone.
One child said that she last saw Eric Reinbold around 9 or 10 p.m. the day before. Neither child knew where he went or his location.
The complaint says one of the children reported last seeing their mother crying, and that Eric Reinbold thought she was cheating on him and that made him mad.
Law enforcement officers found Eric Reinbold’s phone, obtained a search warrant and downloaded its contents. Exchanges between the two revealed tension in their relationship at times and attempts of trying to reconcile at other times going back to March 2021.
The complaint details text messages between Eric and Lissette Reinbold, in which Eric Reinbold accused Lissette of being unfaithful. She denied such accusations, also stating that Eric Reinbold had “punched and choked her in 2015,” the complaint says.
The text messages continued back and forth until Eric Reinold came to take two of the children with him back to the camper.
Law enforcement officers also spoke to one of Lissette Reinbold’s friends, who reported that Lissette Reinbold had sent the friend and the friend’s sister a video via Messenger at 6:36 a.m. on July 9. The friend said that she sent Lissette Reinbold a “What’s Up” message at 7:26 that morning, but she never opened the message, the criminal complaint said.
Reinbold has had several run-ins with law enforcement in recent years.
In 2016, Reinbold pleaded guilty to a June 2015 incident where he repeatedly rammed his pickup into a vehicle occupied by his wife and children.
In December 2018, Reinbold was sentenced to 60 months in prison after a jury found him guilty of possessing pipe bombs at a hunting property located near Oklee, Minn.
Investigators also found a 32-page notebook in Reinbold’s desk, titled “How one person can make a difference: Instruction booklet at the HCU (homemade commando university),” according to court documents. The book, which bore Reinbold’s name, was a manual on how to “start the second American Revolution and Win.”
The notebook contained writings on how to survive in the wilderness, how to build bombs and how to identify enemies, including the police, “The Rich” and teacher conventions.
Federal court records show Reinbold was granted a "compassionate care" release on March 18. According to court documents, Reinbold argued that his medical issues and the need to return to help take care of his family warranted a reduction in his sentence. The request referenced concerns about coronavirus.
Probation had concluded that he would "have the proper support system and means to provide to his family should the Court decide to release Mr. Reinbold on compassionate grounds," court documents said.
In a 28-page response, the prosecution argued that Reinbold should not be released because it believed Reinbold failed to exhaust administrative remedies and felt he had not established "extraordinary and compelling reasons" to support a sentence reduction.
"Early release would also fail to account for the seriousness of the offense," the court document said.