Updated: 03/08/2013 3:04 PM KSTP.com By: Jennie Olson
A 23-year-old man previously suspected in three attacks on women in Georgia has been charged with murder in the death of a Minnesota woman.
Alberto Prece Palmer was charged Friday in Anoka County with second-degree murder in the death of 18-year-old Brittany Clardy.
Investigators say Clardy met Palmer after he answered her online ad for massage services in February. A criminal complaint says Palmer told police the two fought after having sex, and he beat her in the head with a hammer.
Clardy's body was found Feb. 21 hidden in her mother's car, which had been towed to a Columbia Heights impound lot. The vehicle was towed from a Brooklyn Park apartment complex the day before Valentine’s Day.
According to the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office, two search warrants were executed Wednesday in Woodbury and Brooklyn Park. Evidence pointed to Palmer, who had numerous warrants out of the state of Georgia, police say.
Warrants included kidnapping to facilitate flight, criminal sexual conduct, first-degree assault and false imprisonment.
“As this case began to unravel, it became apparent that Brittany had followed a path in life that led her to prostitution,” Anoka County Commander Paul Sommer said at a press conference. “Detectives were aware that she had posted ads on the internet classified site backpage.com. She had numerous cell phones that she used, and that began a forensic path to this investigation.”
“The message that should go out is that this type of work – being involved in internet activities, meeting people – can be a very, very dangerous situation, and it is our belief that, unfortunately, the absolute worst happened for Brittany in this situation,” Anoka County Attorney Tony Palumbo said at a press conference. “Parents, you need to monitor the pathway that comes into the home about what’s going on with your children. It’s unfortunately for Brittany that she wound up in this situation.”
The investigation involved detectives and many other staff members from the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office, the Brooklyn Park Police Department, the Brooklyn Center Police Department, the St. Paul Police Department, the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office, the Columbia Heights Police Department, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, and the Woodbury Police Department.
“This case is an example of successful collaborative effort between many law enforcement agencies, all of whom played a significant role in this investigation,” Anoka County Sheriff James Stuart said in a press conference.
For several years, Clardy worked with kids at the after school program at the North Dale Recreation Center in St. Paul.
"She was a beautiful young girl, always laughing and smiling, and always had friends around. And she'd always wave," said neighbor Mary Ksiazek. "She was a very nice girl, she worked up at the playground with other children."
Clardy was a student at Highland Park Senior High School until January 2012. School officials say she was very social, well-known and well-liked. Students and staff remembered her wonderful sense of humor.
It wasn't immediately clear Friday if Palmer had an attorney. He was held in the county jail in Anoka on $2 million bail.
To read the charges, click here. Warning: There may be graphic content
The Associated Press contributed to this article.