Arrest Made In Connection With Cloquet Cold Case Murder

By KBJR News 1

June 16, 2012 Updated Jun 18, 2012 at 4:38 PM CDT

DULUTH, MN (Northland's NewsCenter)---An arrest has been made in connection to the violent murder of Trina Langenbrunner 12-years-ago.

Joseph John Couture, 41, of Cloquet, was taken into custody Friday without incident.

He remains in St. Louis County Jail Saturday on charges of Murder in the Second Degree and 2nd Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct.

Couture has a criminal history and is convicted of second degree criminal sexual conduct with an 8-year-old girl.

Michelle Lee spoke with the Langenbrenner family in 2008.

A Brookston woman was killed in an attack so brutal, her family describes it as an act of torture.

Hundreds of tips have come in since the body of Trina Langebrunner was found.

And authorities now believe they are just one tip away from delivering "Justice for Trina."

Beloved daughter, sister and mother of three children, Trina Langenbrunner was the victim of a crime so heinous it ripped away the blanket of security her family and her Community took for granted.

It was Labor Day weekend 2000, kids were ready to head back to school and wild ricing season was underway.

Saturday evening Trina and some friends went to Brookston for a drink at a local tavern.

The next day word began to spread of the discovery of a dead body.

The lifeless body of Trina Langenbrunner was found by a passerby here on the duff road leading towards Brookston.

She had been stabbed multiple times.

Those who love her feel that she didn't give up life without a fight.

She would have fought back," Margaret Dupuis, Langenbrunner's mothers said. "I know her, enough to know she would do that."

Murder is rare on the Fond Du Lac Indian reservation.
The brutality of the attack on one of it's members shocked many.

"Trina wasn't just killed, though, she was tortured," Sharri St. Germaine, Trina's sister said. "Trina was tortured."

Much like piecing together a jig saw puzzle, deputies' scoured the murder scene for bits and pieces of evidence.

Evidence was also collected during a forensic examination of Trina's body.

"There are a lot of things we do know, you can see with the amount of paper work you see here," Sargeant Jason Lukovsky of the St. Louis County Sherrifs Department said.

Because the murder investigation is still active investigators are withholding critical evidence.

If Trina did fight off her attacker, in all likelihood that evidence includes skin cells, hair and other "genetic calling cards" from her killer."

"We review evidence yearly and with the advancements in DNA, hopefully that will be a benefit to us in the future," Lukovsky said.

A considerable cash reward was offered for information leading to an arrest and conviction of Trina's killer.

Nearly 1,000 tips have now been cataloged and indexed.

Black folders contain the names of "People of Interest" in the investigation, and quite possibly Trina's killer.

"I do believe those people know who they are," Lukovsky said. "I am sure they are living with this and looking over their shoulder wondering when a sheriff's deputy or a Fond Du Lac reservation squad is going to ask them what they did.

It is Sergeant Jason Lukovsky's job to wade through the many puzzle pieces and arrive at the truth.

"There have been people who have been told certain things about this crime and they, they know what happened," Lukovsky said. "It's just a matter of them coming forward."

Was Trina a victim of an unwanted advance? A fight over a man? An act of random violence.

The possibility a murderer might live close by sparked rumors which continue to frustrate Trina's family.

"Sometimes we'll sit up make phone calls to each other and those sorts of things," Sharri St. Germaine said. "But somebody knows something."

Even if somebody doesn't come forward, as technology advances, particularly in the field of DNA, it may be only a matter of time before all the pieces to this puzzle are found.

"The bottom line is this, somebody did a heinous crime and who ever they are, who ever it is, is still out there capable of another one," Kevin Dupuis, Trina's brother said.

The Langenbrunner family has been made aware of the arrest and is asking for privacy.

If you have any information on the case, please call the St. Louis County Sherrif's Department

Authorities will release more details in the investigation Monday.