Murder suspect faces assault charges in separate incident: Case of mother's homicide pending

A 34-year-old Longville man who is a suspect in his mother's homicide in Bena faces criminal charges in a separate incident when he allegedly assaulted two people with a knife at a Bena bar.

Thomas Wayne Matthews
Thomas Wayne Matthews

A 34-year-old Longville man who is a suspect in his mother's homicide in Bena faces criminal charges in a separate incident when he allegedly assaulted two people with a knife at a Bena bar.

Thomas Wayne Matthews was charged Friday, Nov. 30, in Cass County District Court in Walker with three felony counts of second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon and misdemeanor fifth-degree assault in an attempt to cause bodily injury. The felony counts each carry a maximum sentence of seven years in prison and a $14,000 fine.

Matthews appeared before Ninth Judicial Judge David Ten Eyck, who set unconditional bond at $1 million or $500,000 with conditions to include not using alcohol or controlled substances and no contact with the victims. As of Friday, Matthews remained in Cass County Jail in Walker. His next court hearing is scheduled Monday in front of Judge David Harrington.

Cass County Attorney Ben Lindstrom, prosecuting the case, was pleased Ten Eyck agreed to the higher bond amount for the assault charges to ensure public safety.

Lindstrom declined to comment if or when Matthew would be charged for his mother's death, saying the investigation is ongoing and the case is pending.


Cass County sheriff's deputies Wednesday found the body of 54-year-old Joy Marie Matthews at her residence in Bena in the Leech Lake Reservation. The Ramsey County Medical Examiner's Office determined her death was due to multiple stab wounds and ruled it a homicide. The sheriff's office reported the investigation revealed the suspect as Thomas Wayne Matthews, the victim's son.

The assault complaint

According to the statement of probable cause filed against Matthews, law enforcement officers were dispatched at 7:47 p.m. Tuesday to a trespassing complaint at the Big Winnie Bar in Bena. The initial call stated Matthews was kicked out of the bar twice and kept coming back. A minute later, a second caller reported Matthews cut the bartender and possibly someone else.

A Cass County sheriff's deputy and other officers responded to the bar from Cass Lake. While en route, the deputy learned Matthews used a knife and other patrons were able to pin him to the ground. Upon arrival, the deputy observed Matthews lying on the ground with patrons holding him down. The deputy observed blood on Matthews' shirt sleeves and a small pool of blood on the pavement. Matthews was placed in handcuffs. Patrons told law enforcement the victim was inside the bar.

The victim, identified as RAS in the court file, had an open wound on his right jaw 2 inches below his right ear. The wound was 1-inch in length and appeared to be a quarter-inch to a half-inch deep. RAS indicated he was also stabbed in the arm.

The deputy observed another male bleeding from the face. This male, identified as SAA, had a small cut on his forehead approximately a half-inch long. SAA also had a cut on his left cheek, just below the corner of his left eye to his jawline below his left ear.

The knife appeared to be a brown-handled steak knife and the blade was bent.

SAA indicated the bar hosted a raffle drawing and afterward a table of older couples from Federal Dam stayed at the bar. When the older couples began to leave, SAA heard a car honk a few times and then heard screaming. He ran out of the bar to investigate and saw a man wrestling with a driver of a Ford Fusion. The Ford belonged to a man identified as VDV in the complaint.


SAA and RAS attempted to remove the man from the vehicle. SAA said once he stuck his head in the vehicle, he saw the man had a knife in his hands. SAA believed the man was trying to stab at RAS and himself. He felt he was hit once by the knife and then he felt he was slashed. After he was wounded, he backed off and ran into the bar to call 911.

The deputy spoke with VDV, who said he was at the bar for a raffle. When he was leaving, a man he did not know entered his vehicle through the front passenger door and tried to get him out of the vehicle. VDV said he put the man into a choke-hold until other people were able to pull him out of the vehicle. He did not see what occurred before the man attacked him. The man had a knife in his hand, because he put a hole in his jacket. VDV showed the deputy bruises on his arms and a hole in his jacket. VDV is over 80 years old.

The deputy spoke with VDV's significant other identified as LAM. She said "a guy just went nuts." She talked to the man as she was leaving because he did not have a jacket on. The next thing she knew, he had another woman, identified as LJS, by her neck as she was sitting in her vehicle, a Mercury Sable. LJS backed up really fast, which knocked the man down. LAM was getting out of her vehicle to help LJS when the man entered the Ford Fusion and tried to stab VDV and take their car. LAM identified the man as Matthews and said other people in the bar pulled him out of their vehicle and held him on the ground until law enforcement arrived.

Matthews broke the driver's window to the Mercury and assaulted LJS by strangling her. In LJS's attempt to get away from Matthews, she backed out of the parking stall and ran him over. When the deputy assisted with handcuffing Matthews, he observed blood pooling under Matthews. The deputy rolled Matthews over and did not see anything other than scratches that would have caused the blood to pool.

LJS told the deputy she ran him over but did not know what else to do. LJS indicated he broke her window and grabbed her. She stated she was afraid of him.

Matthews was transported by ambulance to the hospital.

LJS also stated at 5:50 p.m., she was traveling to the bar from her residence in Federal Dam. She was traveling northbound on Cass County Highway 8 and was a block and a half away from the bar when she observed a man, who she later learned was Matthews, enter the road on foot and run toward the front of her vehicle. The man put his hands out to his side and yelled. LJS applied the brakes and then he ran around the passenger side and she continued driving.

The investigation is ongoing.

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