Heidi Firkus’s family is not sure whether they will find justice for her. Eleven years later, the sergeant’s investigation resulted in her husband being charged.
In Heidi Firkus (Sgt. Nichole Sipes) at her home in St. Paul was attracted to the unresolved case.
When he was killed in 2010, Sipes was a patrol officer in an area including Hamline-Midway. She thought: “This story is not justified.”
Firkus’ husband Nicholas told the police that the intruder broke into their house. He said he armed himself with a shotgun, and when he was struggling with the unknown man, the weapon was fired. Heidi was shot in the back and Nicholas Firkus was shot in the leg.
Sipes said that she was particularly moved by the tragedy of a 25-year-old woman who lost her life. Her family was “left behind and wondering what happened and why they suffered such losses.”
After Sipes became a homicide investigator in 2019, the sergeant who had been investigating the Firkus case was transferred to another mission, and Sipes asked if she could take over.
She investigated for 18 months and regularly conducted new homicide investigations until the law enforcement and prosecutors were unsure of Heidi Firkus’s family whether they would have such incidents: Nicolas Firkus Nicholas Firkus was arrested on Wednesday, After being accused of murder.
Although some people think this is a cold case, Sipes said that the road has never become cold because investigators have not stopped investigating the matter, and the case has never been closed.
She was quick to point out that she built on her previous work as a homicide investigator and worked hand in hand with the FBI and Ramsey County prosecutors.
Ramsey County Attorney John Choi said Sipes brought “fresh eyes” to the investigation. He also said that the information from the FBI, especially the enhanced audio of the 911 call from the Firkus home, “helped us better understand what happened.”
Choi said at a press conference on Thursday that Ramsey County’s assistant lawyers Andy Johnson and Elizabeth Lamin had spent many years in the Firkus case and were suing Nicholas Firkus. “We have worked tirelessly on this case. , Never forget” Heidi Firkus.
They formed a cold case department with Rick Dusterhoft, director of the trial division of the county attorney general. Since 2015, Trek’s office is the fourth person in the Cui’s office to prosecute a homicide for the fourth time since 2015.
She’turned over some rocks’
Police Chief Todd Axtell said that every investigator “has devoted his mind to this case, time and time again, one step forward every day.”
When Heidi Firkus was killed on April 25, 2010, Sergeant Major Jim Gray was the original investigator, assisted by the sheriff. Jane Laurence and John Wright. Sergeant Jake Peterson took over the investigation in 2012, and Sipes accepted the case in November 2019.
“Some things are important to her,” the senior commander said. The head of the homicide department Bryant Gaden (Bryant Gaden). “She turned over a few rocks and some pebbles and decided to stay.”
Sipes first read each police report, carefully read all the evidence, and listed what she thought would be helpful for the re-examination. She went back to interview people again.
The FBI assisted Sao Paulo at the beginning of the investigation. On the advice of FBI agents, Sipes worked with federal agencies again at the beginning of last year, saying they provided resources she would otherwise not be able to obtain.
The Minneapolis field office assisted in the investigation strategy and set a timetable, while the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Department provided support, and the FBI laboratory in Quantico, Virginia analyzed the ballistics and added 911 calls for help. phone.
Sipes and prosecutors Johnson and Lamin must investigate according to their regular caseload.
At any time, Sipes is dealing with another 25 cases-new homicides, serious assaults and robberies-although the Firkus case is the only older homicide she is investigating.
From sex crimes to homicide investigators
Sipes started her law enforcement career in 1996 as a police officer in Ames, Iowa. She returned to her native Twin Cities in 2000 and joined the São Paulo police station.
She became an investigator in the sex crimes department in 2017 and joined the homicide in August 2019.
When Firkus was killed in 2010, Sipes was a patrol officer in the western region. Although she had heard of the case, she was not one of the police officers who responded to the homicide on Minnehaha Avenue near Fairview Avenue.
Sipes said: “I am familiar with that area. It is usually a very quiet family community.”
It would be unusual for a stranger to break into someone’s home, let alone a robbery that ended in homicide.
Nicholas Firkus, 38, told the police about the life and death struggle with the intruder on the day of the shooting, but according to a criminal complaint opened on Thursday, investigators found no evidence of any fighting at the couple’s residence. . He was deliberately charged with second-degree murder.
Heidi Firkus did not see any news of the intruder when talking to the 911 operator. No struggle was heard on the phone before the gunshots sounded, and the criminal proceedings were still continuing.
However, Firkus’ lawyer Joe Friedberg called the case “completely accidental” when Firkus first appeared in court on Thursday.
Friedberg said that a week or two before Filkus’s arrest, he and Friedberg “realised what might happen,” because the police had knocked on Filkus’ door. And asked to talk to him. Friedberg advised him not to do this.
Friedberg disagreed with the amount of bail requested by prosecutors on Thursday, noting that Filkus had no criminal record. Firkus was released from prison on Thursday afternoon after issuing a security deposit of $1 million and agreeing to surrender his passport.
“This is about Heidi”
The day after Heidi Firkus was killed, the couple were evicted from their house due to foreclosure, although the police indicated that they did not pack their things. Sipes said that she was able to confirm in the investigation that only Nicholas Firkus had signed the documents related to foreclosure. She said that Heidi Firkus “did not realize or Did not participate in any process of foreclosure.”
Is the imminent expulsion the cause of the shooting?
Sipes said it is difficult to “tell the motive of the case,” but the timing of the foreclosure “will lead someone to a conclusion.”
The São Paulo Police SWAT team arrested Firkus at its mound landscape home on Wednesday, where Sipes was. Sipes said he declined to be interviewed by the police.
Sipes and her FBI agent who handled the case, Patrick Rielly of the Minneapolis Field Office took Firkus to jail.
Earlier, Sipes and Rielly met with Heidi Firkus’ parents Linda and John Erickson and told them that Nicholas Firkus would be prosecuted.
Since meeting Sipes for the first time in 2020, Ericksons said she “showed again and again her full commitment to doing everything possible to move the case forward” and they said they would never be grateful again.
“Sergeant. Sipes’ dynamism, empathy and tenacity are really impressive,” Linda and John Erickson said in a statement. “Obviously, she is an experienced professional, but keeps her personality in the way she listens and keeps in touch. We feel that every one of our concerns and questions is important to her.”
Sipes said she does not want Heidi Firkus to be forgotten as the case against Nicholas Firkus progresses.
Sipes said: “We commemorate her life by advancing this case.” “In the final analysis, this is about Heidi and a young woman who lost her life and a family that was sad for her. We are committed to this work.” In the process, they have been patient for 11 years.”