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Rochester man charged with murder of woman who was found dead in Olmsted County field

Timothy Daniel Loftus, 41, of Rochester, is facing felony charges related to the murder of Tia Mercedes Arleth, a woman with close ties to Rochester. Her badly decomposed body was found in an Olmsted County field this summer.

Timothy Daniel Loftus
Timothy Daniel Loftus
Contributed / Olmsted County Sheriff's Office
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ROCHESTER — A Rochester man has been charged in Olmsted County District Court in the death of a woman found dead in northeast Olmsted County this summer.

Timothy Daniel Loftus, 41, is facing a felony third-degree murder charge related to selling Tia Mercedes Arleth controlled substances and a felony count related to concealing a dead body.

Arleth was found June 17, 2022, in a northeast Olmsted County field underneath a tarp secured around her with rope, a tie-down strap and duct tape.

She was reported missing June 12, and was last seen at the end of May. Loftus is accused of providing Arleth heroin and fentanyl, leading to her death, then hiding her body after she died.

"Our condolences continue to go out to Ms. Arleth's family and friends," Olmsted County Sheriff's Capt. James Schueller said during a Thursday, Nov. 3, 2022, press conference. "Their loss has been made worse by the time spent since this tragedy wondering why Tia was taken from them and who was responsible. While the identification of Tim Loftus as a suspect and the filing of criminal charges may not lessen their pain over Tia's loss, we do hope that this does help provide them with the first steps in providing some sense of comfort and closure."

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Loftus has been in custody in the Olmsted County Adult Detention Center since July 15, 2022, on several other charges unrelated to this case. He is expected to make his first court appearance for this case Friday, Nov. 4, 2022.

"This is a very, very complex case," Olmsted County Attorney Mark Ostrem said during Thursday's press conference. "We believe that we can prove that Mr. Loftus provided the drugs, specifically probably fentanyl, that led to Ms. Arleth's death."

Ostrem cited the cooperative work between his office and the Sheriff's Office in the case.

The prosecution has to prove a hand-to-hand transaction in order to prove the murder charge against Loftus, he said.

"We've had a lot of difficult conversations over this case about what we need to get there," Ostrem said.

Due to the badly decomposed state of Arleth's body, an autopsy listed her cause of death as undetermined, according to the criminal complaint.

"However, the autopsy revealed no apparent fractures or bullet holes, and the postmortem toxicology tests were positive for the presence of fentanyl in Arleth’s system," reads part of the complaint.

Arleth's mother told investigators that she took Arleth to Loftus' Rochester home on May 29 and that was the last time she had contact with Arleth.

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A witness told investigators that Loftus had disappeared for several days after May 29 and identified a dolly cart found where Arleth's body was discovered as belonging to Loftus.

Law enforcement found duct tape and rope in Loftus' garage that matched those found on Arleth's body, according to the criminal complaint.

Another witness told law enforcement that he went to Loftus' residence June 9 and that Loftus told him that Loftus had provided heroin and fentanyl to Arleth, and that she died as a result of ingesting those substances, according to the criminal complaint. Loftus also told that person that Arleth's body was located in a trailer near his residence. The witness noted that a blue tarp was in the trailer.

Video from a doorbell camera shows Loftus' vehicle hooking up to that trailer containing a blue tarp the morning of June 9 and leaving, according to the criminal complaint. About 90 minutes later, the trailer is seen again in front of Loftus' home, without the blue tarp.

Loftus' cellphone data from June 9 show that he traveled from his home in Rochester to the location where Arleth's body was found and that he stopped in that area for around nine to 10 minutes, the criminal complaint states.

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension assisted with the processing of the scene, as well as evidence collection.

Mark Wasson has been a public safety reporter with Post Bulletin since May 2022. Previously, he worked as a general assignment reporter in the southwest metro and as a public safety reporter in Willmar, Minn. Readers can reach Mark at mwasson@postbulletin.com.
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