The case involving a former Isanti County businessman facing a murder charge filed in February 2019 appears to be heading to a jury trial.
Jerry Arnold Westrom, 55, of Isanti, was charged on Feb. 14, 2019, with second-degree murder in the stabbing death of 35-year-old Jeanie Childs, occurring on June 13, 1993. However, on June 25, 2020, Westrom was indicted for felony first-degree premeditated murder and pleaded not guilty to the charge on July 24, 2020.
On Nov. 1, 2021, a hearing was held before Hennepin County Judge Martha Anne Holton Dimick and a jury trial has been scheduled for March 28, 2022.
Westrom previously owned several businesses in the Cambridge community, including Sears and the Westrom’s Corner gas station at the intersection of South Main Street and Highway 65 (currently a vacant lot to be the future home of Kwik Trip).
According to the criminal complaint, on June 13, 1993, property management for an apartment building on the 3100 block of Pillsbury Avenue South, Minneapolis, was alerted by a tenant that water was coming into her apartment. The water was determined to be coming from an adjacent apartment, where Childs often stayed. Upon entry in the apartment, water was found to be overflowing from an unoccupied, running shower. Water and blood were present throughout the bathroom and connected bedroom. Childs’ body was found on the bedroom floor.
Authorities were called and an investigation began. They found the apartment belonged to someone Childs had been dating — who was out of the area at the time of the incident — and that she used the apartment for prostitution services. The Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office determined she died from multiple sharp force injuries. Items from the apartment were collected and eventually tested for the presence of DNA. An unknown DNA profile was found to be on several of the items tested.
In 2018, police enlisted the services of a genealogist who supplied Westrom’s name as an individual who shared familial traits to the unknown profile that was developed at the crime scene.
In 2019, police started to follow Westrom and, at a hockey game, watched him use a napkin to wipe his mouth and then toss it in the trash. Police retrieved the napkin and were able to obtain a DNA sample from it which linked to DNA profiles at the crime scene. In addition, Westrom’s footprints were identified to several bloody footprints found at the scene.