Charges filed in Loesch murder

Donald Eugene Jackson, 23, was charged with second-degree murder Monday for the mid-September killing of Kingfield resident Mark Loesch.

Loesch, 41, a father of four, was found beaten to death on the 3700 Block of Elliot Avenue South Sept. 13. He had left for a bike ride after 10 p.m. the night before and never returned.

The seemingly random incident shocked many in Southwest and beyond, spurring a large community safety meeting hosted by elected officials and police and a memorial bike ride. But police said today that they don’t believe Loesch’s murder was random.

Jackson said he and another man were selling drugs on the corner of 38th Street and Chicago Avenue when they decided to rob Loesch, according to a criminal complaint. Jackson said his companion hit Loesch three times with a baseball bat and took $40 from his pants pocket.

At a news conference Monday, Lt. Amelia Huffman, commander of the police department’s homicide unit, said Jackson’s companion was in custody, but she could not release any information about him because of an ongoing investigation. Both men were pointing fingers at each other, she said.

Huffman said Jackson told investigators that the incident started as a drug deal, but he and the other suspect decided to rob Loesch instead, so they lured him about a block away from the intersection to the spot where he was found the next morning.

“The information that the investigators received during the course of their investigation was that the contact, the initial contact between the suspect, Donald Eugene and his companion and Mark Loesch did involve a drug transaction, discussion of a drug transaction,” Huffman said. “Ultimately, the underlying motive in this case was robbery.”

Jackson said the drug being peddled was marijuana, Huffman said.

Friends and family of Loesch were stunned to hear police mention the possibility of a drug deal.

“Even the idea of Mark being involved in a drug deal is not fact,” said longtime friend Will Vervair of Maple Grove. “If he was doing drugs, there would have been drugs in his system.”

According to toxicology reports, no traces of any drugs were found.

Vervair said Loesch had used drugs in the past, but had buried that part of his life long ago.

“He was way too dedicated to his family to let that bring him down,” Vervair said.

Exercise, particularly bike riding, was Loesch’s only vice, Vervair said.

Huffman said whether Loesch was involved in a drug transaction shouldn’t overshadow his death.

“It doesn’t matter why Mark Loesch was at 37th and Elliot that night,” Huffman said. “He didn’t deserve to die.”

Jackson was arrested on Friday and was being held in the Hennepin County Adult Detention Center.