Bizarre totem pole death turns into murder case

Jun 9 2011 - 12:14pm

Carl Muggli told police that his wife, Linda, was crushed to death in November when the totem pole they were carving accidentally fell on her.

But now police say it was murder.

Carl Muggli, 49, was arrested Tuesday in southern Texas and will be returned to International Falls, Minn., to face second-degree-murder charges in the death of his wife of 24 years.

The criminal complaint filed last week in Koochiching County, Minn., tells a tale of infidelity and deceit.

On Nov. 26, a sheriff's deputy was called to the couple's garage and found Linda Muggli, 61, on the floor, bleeding from the mouth but still breathing. She was taken to a hospital, where she died.

Later that day, Carl Muggli told a deputy that a totem pole that the couple had been working on fell out of its cradle and onto his wife.

But about a week later, a tipster told the Sheriff's Office about Facebook entries between Muggli and a woman in Alabama that were "very intimate in nature," the complaint said.

A Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension agent reviewed Muggli's computer and uncovered Facebook messages between him and the woman that stretched from more than a month before Linda Muggli's death to a few days afterward.

"I love you with all my being. ... I want us together to live our lives as we seek. For I am with you. I am yours. We are one!" Muggli wrote Nov. 25 to the woman he called "Eveningstar."

On Nov. 28, his message said, "I love you Eveningstar, we'll get through this, I love you, house just got full again, will call soon."

He also began sending e-mails to real estate companies in Texas, looking for a "2+ bdrms, in country, a few acres." To another company, he wrote that he was "looking for a country home on 5 or more acres to rent or lease with option to buy. (my current situation -- divorce -- will not allow buying.)"

On Nov. 30, a few hours after his wife's memorial service, Muggli sent the woman an online link for property in Palestine, Texas.

She responded: "This is good and yes I'll look ... follow your heart as I have been doing. ... Hugs and Kisses, holding you tight, I will not let you go."

On Dec. 27, sheriff's deputies and a BCA agent went to the Muggli home in an effort to re-create the circumstances of the death as Carl Muggli had outlined, according to the complaint. Five times the officers tried and failed to make the completed 17-foot-tall totem pole come out of the cradle as Carl Muggli said had occurred.

The complaint added that on May 30, the woman in Alabama told the sheriff's chief deputy that she was on the phone with Muggli on the day of his wife's death and heard him arguing with her about getting a divorce.

The woman said he called back 30 minutes later, telling her there had been an accident and medical personnel were trying to save his wife.

Linda and Carl Muggli were married in 1986. They lived quietly in a log home about 20 miles south of International Falls in the town of Ray, Minn. Via the Internet, they made a name for themselves, carving and selling totem poles to Six Flags Theme Park, Warner Brothers Television and the Princess Diana Memorial Children's Park in London, according to their website.

Bob Neuenschwander, owner of Border Bob's in International Falls, hired Carl Muggli in the early 1980s to be "dock boy" at his father's lake resort and to help out at the store.

"I'm not going to get into details here, but something happened with Carl that estranged him from us and our business," Neuenschwander said Wednesday. "She stepped in, took control of both him and the situation. She was wonderful in how she helped him, and none of the wonderful things that happened in his life would have ever happened without her."

The Mugglis ran a game farm and petting zoo on their land before they became successful in the totem pole business, Neuenschwander said.

Carl Muggli moved to Stockdale, Texas, after his wife's death. The website for the totem pole business lists an address there. It notes Linda Muggli's death on Nov. 27, saying: "She passed while doing what she loved."

(Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service, www.scrippsnews.com.)

 

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