Juan Ignacio Blanco  


  MALE murderers

index by country

index by name   A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

  FEMALE murderers

index by country

index by name   A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z




Murderpedia has thousands of hours of work behind it. To keep creating new content, we kindly appreciate any donation you can give to help the Murderpedia project stay alive. We have many
plans and enthusiasm to keep expanding and making Murderpedia a better site, but we really
need your help for this. Thank you very much in advance.




Heather Leann HORST





Classification: Murderer

Characteristics: Murder-for-hire - To collect insurance money

Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: August 5, 2013
Date of arrest: 4 days after
Date of birth: 1988
Victim profile: Her husband, Brandon James Horst, 25
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: St. Paul, Ramsey County, Minnesota, USA
Status: Sentenced to life in prison without parole on May 27, 2014
photo gallery

St. Paul woman gets life sentence for plotting husband's murder

By Emily Gurnon -

May 27, 2014

There was no other way out of her marriage. If Heather Leann Horst divorced her husband, she would lose her home, her pets and the financial security he provided, prosecutors argued. She needed him gone -- for good.

"I want him dead," she told her friends.

A Ramsey County jury agreed with the prosecution Tuesday. It took just two hours to convict Horst of aiding and abetting first-degree murder in the Aug. 5 shooting death of her husband, 25-year-old Brandon Horst.

She was sentenced right after the verdict to life in prison without the possibility of parole, the mandatory sentence.

Heather Horst, 25, told friend Aaron William Allen that Brandon had a $1 million life insurance policy. She said she would pay Allen 10 percent of that -- an amount she later upped to 25 percent -- if he killed Brandon.

"Put at least two or three rounds into him," Allen testified Heather Horst told him the night of Aug. 4, just hours before the murder. That, prosecutor Karen Kugler said Tuesday morning, was the "final directive" from Horst when she dropped Allen off at the Horst home in St. Paul.

Allen put one bullet into Horst's head as he lay sleeping.

Heather Horst had another reason to get rid of her husband: a lover.

Marcus Strombaugh testified at trial that he and Horst were devoted to each other, Kugler said. They had been having an affair since before the Horsts married. Brandon Horst knew about it and was ready to file for divorce himself, Kugler said.

Horst's attorney argued Tuesday that Allen acted alone, carrying out a longstanding murder fantasy.

Horst showed no emotion as the verdicts, which included second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit the crimes, were read. Given a chance to speak, she declined.

Judge Salvador Rosas ordered her into custody immediately.

Brenda Horst, the victim's mother, pressed his military dogtags to her chest as she spoke after the hearing.

The grief and anger at her firstborn son's death at his wife's direction were overwhelming, she said.

"You don't want to think that someone in your family is capable of such things," she told reporters. "And if there were signs, we missed them."

She had been a single parent for the first seven years of Brandon's life, and they were very close. When she married Mark Horst, he adopted Brandon.

"He had this goofiest grin and he could make you smile no matter what," she said of her son. "He just always looked for the good in people, and always looked toward the future."

Kugler, the prosecutor, told reporters that justice was done Tuesday.

"We are absolutely elated that the jury came back with a swift and just verdict on behalf of Brandon Horst," she said.

Horst was a member of the Minnesota Air National Guard and served in Saudi Arabia. He was shot and killed shortly after midnight Aug. 5 at the Horst home in the 400 block of Bellows Street. Allen, 26, confessed to being the shooter and pleaded guilty in exchange for a lesser sentence.

Defense attorney Deborah Ellis said in her closing argument Tuesday that the case "begins and ends with Aaron Allen."

Allen and his friends fantasized for hours about how to kill people, she said. They talked of ways of getting rid of a body -- such as dumping it at a pig farm or immersing it in lye. It was no game, Ellis said.

He didn't need Heather Horst's help to get into the house; the back door was broken. After he shot Brandon Horst, "he needs to save himself," Ellis said. That was why he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, thereby avoiding a first-degree murder charge, she said. Both sides agreed he would be sentenced June 10 to the maximum allowed under state law: 40 years in prison.

"He got himself an out date," she told the jury. "He got himself the deal of all deals."

But the jury didn't buy it.

Kugler said plenty of evidence, including testimony from others, corroborated Allen's story.

Allen was to wait in the basement until Brandon Horst fell asleep. He sent Heather Horst several emails during the two hours he spent there, telling her to hurry and remarking worriedly that the dog was barking.

He then committed a "cold-blooded execution just after midnight ... at the request and direction of this defendant out of her selfishness and her greed," Kugler told the jury.

Meanwhile, Horst went with her friend Angela Penoncello -- who was also Brandon Horst's stepsister and Allen's fiancee -- to Walgreens to cement her alibi, Kugler said. Horst couldn't have been at the house when Brandon was murdered, she told St. Paul police Sgt. Jake Peterson, because she was captured on the store's surveillance video.

The jury saw the video, which showed Horst and Penoncello "meandering" through the store, leaving, then returning over a period of 20 minutes. Their pace picked up sharply, Kugler said, when Heather Horst got a text message from Allen.

It said, simply, "Done."

The text came in at 12:35 a.m. The two women were seen pulling out of the Walgreens parking lot at 12:37.

Allen testified that Heather Horst complained to him about her husband, alleging that he physically abused her and caused two miscarriages by beating her. Allen himself was abused as a child and had seen his mother beaten. He had no time for bullies.

Others heard Horst's complaints, too, Kugler said. They included Steven Koderick and his girlfriend Zubrina Phillips, who stayed with Allen and Penoncello at their South St. Paul apartment. Penoncello also heard about Brandon Horst's alleged abuse -- which culminated, Heather Horst announced Aug. 4, with a beating that ended her most recent pregnancy.

Horst had never been pregnant. Her friends also testified that they saw no physical signs Horst had been abused.

Horst came to Allen's apartment that morning, about 14 hours before the murder, and said she had miscarried.

Allen became enraged and "saw red," he testified. The two decided that Allen would kill Brandon Horst, that night, Kugler said.

Allen initially thought he would have help. He got two would-be conspirators, friends Koderick and Sean Keppers, to agree to hold Horst down while Allen slit his throat. Heather Horst took them to Kmart, where she bought them black clothes, gloves and shoes, the prosecutor said.

The two men testified about the plan and Horst's involvement. They pulled out of the scheme as the time grew nearer. They were not charged in the crime.

Kugler said Horst showed no emotion throughout her questioning by police, through a ride in the back of a squad car with Penoncello and throughout the trial.

Ellis, Horst's attorney, said Horst was in shock after her husband was murdered. She did cry during questioning, but the interview was not played for the jury, Ellis said. Penoncello was the truly unemotional one, considering Brandon Horst was her stepbrother, the attorney said.

Several members of the jury re-entered the courtroom as family and friends read statements about what Brandon Horst meant to them.

Lt. Col. John Echert, a senior chaplain with the Air National Guard, said Horst's death affected the members of his unit more than the death of any other member had.

"We lost a highly respected member and a friend to many," Echert said.

Heather Horst's grandparents left with her attorney after the hearing. They declined comment.


Convicted murderer says St. Paul woman 'flat out' asked him to kill her husband

By Richard Chin -

May 16, 2014

Heather Leann Horst was depicted as a sort of black widow of St. Paul's West Side as her murder trial began Thursday.

The 25-year-old is accused of orchestrating the "coldly calculated execution" of her husband, using stories of abuse and an offer of $100,000 in insurance money to manipulate a mentally ill man to put a bullet in the head of the victim while he lay sleeping.

"I want him dead," Horst told the man she was trying to turn into a hit man, according to Assistant Ramsey County Attorney Jada Lewis in her opening statement in district court in St. Paul.

Horst is accused of aiding and abetting first- and second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first- and second-degree murder in the slaying Aug. 5 of her husband, Brandon James Horst, 25, a member of the Minnesota Air National Guard.

Aaron William Allen, 26, of South St. Paul, a friend of Heather Horst, confessed he shot Horst to death in his home on the 400 block of Bellows Street in St. Paul.

Lewis said Heather Horst goaded Allen into committing the murder, preying on his history of physical and sexual abuse by claiming that her husband's abuse had caused a miscarriage.

Horst also knew Allen needed money, and she offered him a share of the $1 million in life insurance that Horst said she would get if her husband were dead, Lewis said.

The prosecutor said the Horsts' marriage was falling apart in the summer of 2013, but Heather Horst told friends she didn't want a divorce because she was afraid of losing her home, car and dogs and that her family would disown her.

Instead, she decided to have her husband killed, Lewis said.

"His life was cut short by his wife's greed and selfishness," said the prosecutor.

Heather Horst arranged for Allen to hide in the basement of the Horst home and armed him with her pistol, telling him to wait until her husband was asleep, Lewis said.

When Allen expressed doubts, Horst told him, "Everything's going to be OK. Everybody dies at some point, and what about what he did to the baby?" Lewis said.

But defense attorney Deborah Ellis said Allen was fulfilling a longtime fantasy to kill someone.

"He acted on his own," Ellis said. "Not at her request. Not with her encouragement."

Ellis said Allen is the prosecution's key witness against Horst, but his credibility is in question.

"He is clever," she said. "He has manipulated people, made false claims. He alone committed the murder. He is a cold-blooded murderer."

But when Allen took the stand, he testified that Heather Horst spent Aug. 4 helping to plan a murder.

He said the plot initially was to involve two other men who would help Allen slit Brandon Horst's throat and make it appear that the slaying occurred in a burglary.

Allen, who was engaged to Brandon Horst's stepsister, said Heather Horst told him he should be the one to kill her husband.

Allen said he was angered because Heather Horst told him that she had miscarried after her husband had punched her in the stomach. He said Heather Horst said it wouldn't do any good to report the abuse to police. She said the police wouldn't do anything because her husband was in the military, Allen said.

"She asked me to kill him. Directly flat out just like that," Allen said. "She was very persistent on me being the one to slit Brandon's throat."

Allen said Heather Horst bought black clothing, shoes and gloves for the men to wear during the slaying to avoid being traced to the crime.

But later in the day, Allen said, the other two men disappeared and he was left to do the killing himself. He said the plan changed.

He testified that Heather Horst gave him her pistol and had him hide for a couple of hours in her house in a basement strewn with animal feces. He said he waited for Brandon Horst to come home and go to bed.

Allen said he hesitated, walking up and down the stairs two or three times before he shot Horst early Aug. 5.

He said that when he expressed second thoughts earlier, Heather Horst told him: "We'd get away with it. Don't worry. Just make it quick and clean, and we'll be free."

He also said the woman told him, "Think about what happened to the baby. Think about the abuse."

He said that when he shot Brandon Horst, Heather Horst had left the house. Before the killing, he said, Heather Horst had told him to fire "at least two or three rounds."

After the shooting, Allen said, when Horst picked him up outside the home, the first thing she asked him was, "How many rounds did you put into him?"

Allen, who hung his head and cried as he described the killing, said he fired only once.

"One was too much," he said.

Allen also testified that while Heather Horst told him her husband abused her and that she had cancer, he never saw any physical signs of injury or illness.

He said she once drove to his apartment in South St. Paul with a piece of red twine around her neck that she said her husband had choked her with. He said that struck him as odd.

"Why would you drive 10 minutes with something tied around your neck?" he said.

He said he never saw Horst cry or contact friends or relatives to tell them of her husband's death.

Lewis said Horst didn't go to her husband's funeral.

Under cross-examination, Allen said he has five separate personalities. But Ellis, the defense attorney, questioned whether Allen has ever had a diagnosis of that condition by a health care professional.

Allen was arrested Aug. 10, five days after the killing and pleaded guilty March 5 to second-degree intentional murder.

Both sides agreed he would be sentenced to the maximum allowed under state law: 40 years in prison. His sentencing is scheduled for June 10.


Heather Horst wanted husband dead, killer's roommate testifies

By Emily Gurnon -

May 16, 2014

A roommate of admitted murderer Aaron Allen had often heard Heather Horst talk about alleged abuse by her husband.

Horst said "the only way she felt she could leave her marriage was if he were to die," Zubrina Phillips testified Friday.

Heather Horst, 25, is on trial in Ramsey County District Court in the Aug. 5 murder of Brandon Horst, 25, a member of the Minnesota Air National Guard. She faces charges of first- and second-degree murder.

Her friend Aaron William Allen, 26, of South St. Paul has pleaded guilty to shooting Horst to death in the Horst home in the 400 block of Bellows Street in St. Paul. Allen testified he killed the man at Heather Horst's behest and that she promised him a cut of her husband's life insurance.

Phillips and her boyfriend were living with Allen and his fiancee, Angela Penoncello, in their one-bedroom apartment. Penoncello was Brandon Horst's stepsister.

Heather Horst was a frequent guest during the summer of 2013, Phillips said, sometimes coming over several times a day.

Having experienced domestic abuse herself in a previous relationship, Phillips said she thought it odd that Horst shared so much about the alleged beatings.

"You're not that open about it; it's something you don't want openly to admit to people," Phillips said.

Prosecutor Karen Kugler asked Phillips if she had ever seen bruises, bite marks or slap marks on Horst. Phillips said no.

Horst also said her husband caused two miscarriages by beating her, Phillips testified. In July, Horst told her friends she was pregnant again. Horst was 25 or 26 weeks along, she said, according to Phillips. Phillips also was expecting a baby.

"Did she appear pregnant to you?" Kugler asked.

Not initially, Phillips said. But one day, she came to the apartment looking "like she had gained 15 or 20 pounds," Phillips said. Horst told them her doctor had inserted a balloon in her cervix to push the baby up and stave off pre-term labor.

The day before the slaying, Horst came to the apartment with her 9-month-old godson. She was upset. Phillips, Allen and Allen's fiancee were there. She had had another miscarriage that morning, she told them.

"He held her down and beat her when he found out she was pregnant," Phillips said Horst alleged.

"She claimed when she got there that she had just gotten out of the hospital," Phillips said.

Phillips said she heard discussion between Horst and Allen about the insurance policy.

"(Horst) believed the policy was worth $1 million," Phillips said. "She offered to give Aaron $350,000."

Phillips said after Allen returned from the Horst home Aug. 5, she heard him tell her boyfriend that "he did it -- he had taken care of the problem."

Later that morning, Horst came over to report that her husband had been killed.

Kugler asked what Horst's tone of voice was like.

"Fake shock, to me," Phillips said.

Defense attorney Deborah Ellis pressed Phillips on what she knew firsthand.

"You never heard (Horst) ask someone else to kill Brandon?" the attorney asked in cross-examination.

"Personally, no," Phillips said.

She conceded that people react in varying ways to grief.

Phillips also acknowledged that after she heard Allen had been arrested, she did not tell police he had admitted to the shooting when he came home the night of the murder.

She told Kugler that she learned her boyfriend had initially been part of the plot but had backed out at the last minute.


Attorneys paint two pictures of St. Paul woman on trial in husband's murder

By Chao Xiong -, Star Tribune

May 15, 2014

Is Heather L. Horst a “coldhearted” manipulator who plotted her husband’s murder? Or is she simply an innocent widow who had no inkling her friend planned to shoot her husband as he slept in their home?

Those are the questions jurors will face in coming days when they deliberate Horst’s fate in a murder trial that began this week in Ramsey County District Court.

Prosecutors and Horst’s attorney presented wildly different pictures of the 25-year-old St. Paul woman Thursday during opening statements. Horst is charged with aiding and abetting first-degree murder, aiding and abetting second-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit second-degree murder in the death of Brandon J. Horst, 26, at the couple’s home on the West Side.

Assistant Ramsey County Attorney Jada Lewis told jurors that Horst tricked her friend Aaron W. Allen, 26, into carrying out the “execution” shortly after midnight on Aug. 5.

“He was a son, a brother, a gifted and talented tech sergeant with the Minnesota National Guard,” Lewis said of Brandon Horst.

But Heather Horst’s attorney, Deborah Ellis, said Allen acted on his own, without help from Horst, carrying out a murder fantasy he had plotted before he befriended her.

Lewis told jurors that Brandon and Heather Horst were married in December 2010, but that by the summer of 2013, their marriage was crumbling because of financial strain and allegations of infidelity by Heather Horst. The couple fought “constantly.” But instead of divorcing, Lewis said, Horst hatched a plan to murder her husband and inherit his $488,000 life insurance policy.

Horst preyed on Allen’s history of physical, sexual and emotional abuse, Lewis said, telling him lies about abuse she allegedly suffered at the hands of her husband — abuse, she told Allen, that caused her to miscarry multiple times.

When Allen pleaded guilty in March for his role in the killing, prosecutors revealed that Horst was never pregnant. Allen pleaded guilty to second-degree intentional murder and agreed to a 40-year prison term. He’s to be sentenced June 10.

Ellis warned jurors to be skeptical of Allen’s story. She told them that Allen and his friends had discussed ways to commit murder, including shooting someone and dumping the body at an Iowa hog farm or slitting the victim’s throat and soaking the body in lye.

“That was his time to kill,” Ellis said of Brandon Horst’s murder. “[Allen] and his friends had a fantasy that they talked about over and over again. Aaron Allen carried out that fantasy.”

At his plea hearing, Allen testified that he and his friends had regularly discussed murder plots. Two of those friends initially agreed to help kill Brandon Horst but backed out.

Allen was engaged to Brandon Horst’s stepsister in 2013 and befriended Heather Horst that summer.

Allen testified Thursday that Horst told him that her husband abused her and took away her cellphone and car keys. She said she couldn’t divorce him because she’d lose her home and car and be disowned by her family. Allen said he sympathized with her because he saw his mother abused. He said he also was abused.

Allen also testified that he lost it when Horst told him on Aug. 4 that Brandon Horst punched her in the stomach, causing her to miscarry again.

“I saw blood,” Allen said.

Horst allegedly then hatched a murder plot with Allen and his two friends and later dropped Allen off at the Horst home, Lewis said. Allen then waited in the basement, crept up the stairs and fired one shot into Brandon Horst’s right eye, the bullet traveling through his left arm as he slept on it.

When Horst picked up Allen afterward, Lewis told jurors, her first words were: “How many rounds did you put in him?”


Wife, Accomplice Accused of Killing Minn. Nat’l Guard Sgt. for Money

By Maricella Miranda -

August 12, 2013

A wife is accused of plotting to kill her husband - a Minnesota National Guard sergeant - with her sister-in-law's fiancé while her husband slept at their St. Paul home.

Heather Leann Horst and Aaron William Allen have been charged in Ramsey County District Court with felony counts of second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit a felony. The pair's motive for the killing is the victim's life insurance policy, according to the charges.

Brandon Horst, 25, was killed around 1:11 a.m. Monday, Aug. 5, after being shot in the head while lying in his bedroom at the couple's home, 468 Bellows Street, the charges said.

Heather Horst's sister-in-law, Brandon Horst's step-sister, later told police what happened, according to the complaints.

The step-sister said that Heather Horst went to her home Sunday, Aug. 4, and told the step-sister and her fiancé, "I want him dead," according to the complaints.

Heather Horst, 24, of St. Paul, said she and her husband had been arguing a lot over the past few days, the charges said. She told Allen that she wanted to make it look like someone broke into their house.

The step-sister, who's identified by initials A.P. in the complaints, later told police that she didn't think Heather Horst was serious. On the night of Aug. 4, Heather Horst picked up Allen from his home around 10:30 p.m. and went to her home where she lived with Brandon Horst.

The step-sister called Heather Horst at 11:55 p.m. to see what she and Allen were doing. Heather Horst left Allen at her home and went to pick up her step-sister, the charges said.

The two women went to Walgreens and then picked up Allen at the end of the block near Horst's home, the complaint said. The three drove to South St. Paul where Allen stopped by Kaposia Park. He left a backpack there, his fiancée told police.

The backpack - which had a handgun inside - was later retrieved by police, the complaints said. Investigators connected the handgun, which belonged to Heather Horst, to the shooting.

Heather Horst told her step-sister that she left the gun for Allen on the dining room table in her house, the complaints said. Allen then waited in the basement for Brandon Horst to fall asleep.

Allen, 25, of South St. Paul, told his fiancée that he took maybe "one or two shots to the head," she told police. Allen heard sirens and ran from the house. That's when he was picked up by Heather Horst and his fiancée.

Text messages were later recovered between Allen and Heather Horst around the time of the shooting, the complaint said. Heather Horst told her step-sister that she had removed the SIM card from her phone and broken it into little pieces so police wouldn't recover the texts.

Heather Horst, who's also known as Schwarz, was arrested Friday, Aug. 9. She refused to answer questions from police.

Allen also was arrested. He told police that Heather Horst was like a sister to him. He said he didn't know why his cellphone was used in the area of Horst's home on the night of the shooting, the complaints said. He then refused to answer questions from police.

The step-sister's other roommate told police that Heather Horst said her husband had a life insurance policy and she was the sole beneficiary, according to the charges. She told Allen and the step-sister that she would give them some money for being supportive and for being family.

Brandon Horst had a $400,000 military life insurance policy and an $80,000 life insurance policy from the federal government for his position as a federal technician, the charges said. Heather Horst was the sole beneficiary for the policies.

Brandon Horst was a staff sergeant with the Minnesota National Guard's 133rd Security Force Squadron. Horst worked full-time at the Airlift Wing for nearly two years, said Maj. Ann Todd, spokeswoman for the Wing, in a statement.

He was a member of the Wing for six years and recently re-enlisted for another term, she said. During his initial enlistment, he was deployed to Southwest Asia for about six months.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to our Airman's family, friends and coworkers during this difficult time," Todd stated. "The family asks for their privacy to be respected during this time."

Heather Horst appeared in court Monday, Aug. 12, where bail was set at $500,000, and $300,000 with conditions. Her next court appearance is scheduled for Aug. 20. The complaint against Horst can be found here.

Allen also appeared in court Monday, where bail was set at $1 million. Allen is scheduled to appear in court Aug. 26. The charges against Allen can be found here.

According to the complaints, Allen has a prior conviction of felony terroristic threats involving fondling a girl as she slept and then threatening her with a knife.



home last updates contact