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Man broke down door before stabbing St. Paul woman, charges say. He told police he was a ‘prophet.’

Twin Cities Pioneer Press logo Twin Cities Pioneer Press 1/10/2022 Mara H. Gottfried

A man kicked in an apartment door on Sunday afternoon in St. Paul and stabbed a woman inside, according to murder charges filed Monday.

Tina M. McCombs, 48, died in the North End apartment. Her boyfriend told police he was dozing in the living room when a man broke in. He heard McCombs yell, “What … is wrong with you?” before the man stabbed her. He said he’d seen the man around and thought he was homeless.

Maurice Angelo McClinton Smith (Courtesy of the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office) © Provided by Twin Cities Pioneer Press Maurice Angelo McClinton Smith (Courtesy of the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office)

Police found Maurice Angelo McClinton Smith, 38, about 90 minutes later, and McCombs’ boyfriend identified him from a photo lineup as the man who killed her, according to the criminal complaint. Smith and McCombs were Facebook friends, and Smith said they met about a month ago, but it wasn’t clear from the complaint how well they knew each other.

An investigator asked Smith why he was at McCombs’ apartment at 180 W. Larpenteur Ave. and he said “to get some tea and crumpets,” the complaint said. “… When asked why he went to see (McCombs), Smith said, ‘To kill her.’ Smith said he was a simple prophet.”

One of McCombs’ children remembered her as his provider and nurturer, writing on social media that he and his brothers are staying strong for her and the family. He expressed sorrow that he wasn’t there to help, and wrote that he wished he could wake up from the nightmare he’s in.

BROKE INTO ANOTHER APARTMENT FIRST

Officers were sent to the apartment building at 2:30 p.m. Sunday after a report of a man kicking in doors while holding a knife. As officers were on the way, they received updated information that a woman had been stabbed in an apartment.

Police found McCombs unresponsive on the bedroom floor, and parts of the door and lock to the apartment scattered in the entryway.

A witness earlier saw a man in the hallway and tried talking to him; he appeared high, the complaint said. The person saw the man kick in the door to an apartment near McCombs, go inside, turn around, and then break into McCombs’ apartment. The man ran from the apartment and out the building’s southern door.

Officers located a knife and drops of blood on the side of the building.

ARREST ON SUNDAY

On Sunday about 4 p.m., officers responded about three miles away from the apartment on a report of a person lying on a rear stoop in the 100 block of Mount Airy Street. Officers found a man, identified as Smith, who was cold and shivering. He wasn’t able to respond to officers, didn’t acknowledge their presence and had what appeared to be dry blood on this clothing, the complaint said.

Smith was taken to Regions Hospital and treated for exposure to the cold weather. When he was cleared from the hospital, he was arrested and taken to police headquarters.

Smith said he wanted to talk to a lawyer, but “then said he wanted to continue speaking to investigators as he was enjoying the conversation and felt somewhat special,” and he agreed to waive his rights and continue speaking to police, the complaint said.

He said he looked into different apartments before he found McCombs and couldn’t remember which one she lived in. Police asked him what he used to hurt McCombs and he responded, “serpent talon,” and later denied he had a weapon, the complaint said.

MURDER CHARGES

An autopsy showed that McCombs had been stabbed twice in her chest. Her death was St. Paul’s first recorded homicide of 2022.

The Ramsey County attorney’s office charged Smith with second-degree intentional murder, second-degree unintentional murder and first-degree burglary.

Smith has felony convictions on his record — armed robbery from Illinois, check forgery from Iowa, domestic assault by strangulation from Iowa, and possession of a stun gun by a prohibited person and violation of a domestic abuse no-contact order in Minnesota, the complaint said.

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