Man charged in connection to body parts of missing man found in Lake Superior

Just last week the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension asked for the public’s help in locating the missing man.

Robert Thomas West/Douglas County, Wisc. Jail

Warning: This report contains details that some may find disturbing.

Remains of a man missing since June were found in Lake Superior late last week and another man has been charged in connection.

Richard “Ricky” Balsimo, 34, was last seen June 20, and just last week the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension asked for the public’s help in locating him possibly in the Duluth/Superior area.

However, in a new press release Monday, the BCA announced that Balsimo’s remains had been located in Lake Superior by dive teams on Thursday and Friday offshore in the city of Grand Portage in Cook County, Minnesota.

The Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office identified Balsimo, of Saint Paul, and listed the manner of death as “homicidal violence.”

Richard Anthony Balsimo/Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension

The statement by the BCA said that Robert Thomas West, 41, of Duluth has been charged with one count of accomplice after the fact to felony murder (aiding an offender) and one count of interference with a dead body for his role in the incident. Both charges are felonies and the BCA said additional charges are anticipated.

The criminal complaint details that Balsimo was likely murdered and dismembered on June 20, and his body later placed in five-gallon buckets into Lake Superior.

The complaint states that a witness with information about the incident agreed to speak to the BCA. The witness said they were acquainted with West and another 35-year-old man, and met up with them on June 20 at West’s home.

The witness said the other man appeared nervous about something being discovered that he had in his vehicle and told the witness, “please don’t make me tell you what I have on me.” The witness later observed bullet holes in the passenger seat of the man’s vehicle.

At one point, the other man later asked the witness to deliver a bag with a gun in it to West. On June 22, West asked the witness if he knew anyone with a boat because he wanted to go fishing.

The witness and West caravanned in separate vehicles to Grand Portage, Minnesota. They stopped at a camping area about 15 minutes prior to Grand Portage, at which point the witness asked West whether he was paranoid. West answered, “ya with a dead body in the back.”

The next day, June 23, the witness overheard a conversation about “three buckets,” then West told her that Balsimo’s body was “chopped up” in a camper. West said that the 35-year-old man they’d been with previously had shot Balsimo, and that “it was in self-defense.”

BCA agents later met with another witness who told them that they’d been contacted by West and that West asked the witness to take him into Lake Superior by boat. The witness observed West drop two five-gallon buckets and a large tote into the lake.

BCA agents recovered one tote and one five-gallon bucket from the floor of Lake Superior. The items were transported to the Anoka County Medical Examiner’s Office for examination. Within the tote was discovered a male human torso with legs, arms, and head removed. In the pocket of a pair of pants located in the tote was a casino players card belonging to Balsimo. Agents observed what appeared to be a bullet wound in the torso.

The complaint states that on July 16, 2021, West, while held in custody in Douglas County, Wisconsin, on unrelated charges, requested to speak with law enforcement. West confessed to coming up with the plan for disposal of Balsimo’s body and assisting in the effort to dismember him. West corroborated a number of details from the witness statements.

West remains in custody in Douglas County, Wisconsin, on unrelated charges. A warrant for West’s arrest has been issued in Cook County, Minnesota.

The other 35-year-old man who shot Balsimo, according to West, was named in the complaint but has not been charged and his whereabouts were not made clear in the complaint.

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Minnesota Crime Watch & Information publishes news, info and commentary about crime, public safety and livability issues in Minneapolis, the Twin Cities and Greater Minnesota.