Charges filed against suspect in New Richmond homicide case
The man named by police as the main suspect in a grisly double-homicide that shook a New Richmond neighborhood last week has been charged with two counts in connection with the case.
Cristian Daniel Nunez, 37, was charged by warrant Thursday in St. Croix County Circuit Court with one count of operating a motor vehicle without owner’s consent and one count of unauthorized use of an entity’s identifying information or documents.
Nunez, who allegedly fled the state by vehicle, and later airplane, was arrested in El Paso, Texas, where he was being jailed on suspicion of being a fugitive from justice. He remained in custody there Monday morning, according to El Paso jail staff.
St. Croix County Deputy District Attorney Michael Nieskes said Nunez waived extradition to Wisconsin on Friday, but it’s not yet clear when he will arrive here by way of a prisoner transport service. The service picks up inmates from around the country, making Nunez’s arrival time in Wisconsin “somewhat up in the air,” Nieskes said.
He said the incident is being treated as a homicide, arson and sexual assault case, and that as additional evidence is processed and considered, “charges are subject to being changed.”
The bodies of Courtney Bradford, 30, and her daughter, 10-year-old Jasmine Bradford, were discovered Wednesday, Sept. 2, after authorities were called for smoke and water in a home at 1400 Hallewood Blvd.
According to the criminal complaint:
The father of Bradford’s 5-year-old child, identified as Adam Norwig, came to the Hallewood Boulevard home at 12:29 p.m. to bring the child home. When he got inside the home, the man saw a smokey haze, left with the child and called 911.
New Richmond police and firefighters arrived and found a woman, later identified as Bradford, dead inside an upstairs bedroom. The woman was covered in clothing and appeared to have blunt-force trauma to the head.
Bradford’s daughter was found dead in the basement. She was found wrapped in blankets with severe burns on her body.
An officer noticed fire damage and running water with several inches of standing water in the basement. He also smelled smoke and fire accelerants.
New Richmond police checked the whereabouts of Bradford’s vehicle, a 2014 Chevrolet Equinox. The SUV’s OnStar tracking device revealed it was in a parking lot next to an airport in Des Moines, Iowa.
New Richmond detectives spoke with Norwig, who said Bradford had a boyfriend named Cristian Nunez. Police learned Nunez was living at a motel off Exit 4 along Interstate 94 and that the motel manager saw Nunez at about 6 a.m. Sept. 2 with a woman matching Bradford’s description.
Police also learned Nunez had phoned his employer on Sept. 2 to say he wouldn’t be in for work that day. He told his boss that he was going with Bradford to get a passport and that she would be driving him.
The Wisconsin Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) passed along copies of the SUV’s license plate and a Facebook photo of Nunez to officials with the Transportation and Safety and Administration.
Officials from the agency identified two men -- one of whom was Nunez -- leaving a blue Chevy Equinox registered to Bradford at the Des Moines airport parking lot.
Nunez caught a flight at 3:45 p.m. Sept. 2 from Des Moines to O’Hare International Airport in Chicago. New Richmond police and a DCI investigator learned through cellphone tracking information that Nunez’s phone was near a hotel at O’Hare at 5 p.m. Sept. 2.
Nunez’s employer, who had been in touch with authorities, attempted calling Nunez’s phone at about 6 p.m. that day. Phone records indicated Nunez’s phone later called a hotel in El Paso.
A DCI investigator called that hotel - the Comfort Inn and Suites - and confirmed that Nunez had placed a reservation there but had not yet checked in.
The investigator was alerted at 1:30 a.m. Sept. 3 that Nunez had checked in using Bradford’s credit card and ID.
El Paso police executed a search warrant on the room, where Nunez was found.
A joint search of the Hallewood Boulevard home among New Richmond police, DCI and the state fire marshal’s office on Sept. 2 revealed Courtney Bradford sustained 10-12 stab wounds to her back, in addition to blunt trauma to the head.
Investigators detected a smell of an accelerant in the bedroom where she was found.
Jasmine Bradford was found wrapped in a blanket that smelled of an accelerant laying in standing water in the home’s basement. She sustained severe burns and a head injury.
Preliminary autopsy results revealed Jasmine Bradford to have been partially disrobed and with injuries to her genitalia, in addition to puncture wounds around her neck and ear.
An autopsy of Courtney Bradford’s body revealed several puncture wounds on her left side of her neck.
State investigators determined three separate emission points found in the house. A 5-gallon gas can was also found floating in the basement.
Authorities conducted a house-by-house canvass of the neighborhood and determined that smoke was smelled at about 7 a.m. There was no apparent sign of forced entry; a window that was found damaged had apparently been blown out by a fire explosion.