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$2M bail set for man accused of murdering daughter’s boyfriend in Crow Wing County

Michael Lee LaFlex, 45, on Tuesday was not granted a conditional bail/bond option. If he were to post bail or bond, he must relinquish his passport.

Crow Wing County Judicial Center Exterior
Crow Wing County Judicial Center.
Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch file photo
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BRAINERD, Minn. — A Crow Wing County judge set a $2 million unconditional bail/bond Tuesday, Nov. 1, for the 45-year-old Center Township man accused of murdering his daughter’s boyfriend.

Michael Lee LaFlex made his first appearance in court and was arraigned on a charge of second-degree murder with intent but not premeditated, a serious felony. LaFlex was not granted a conditional bail/bond option. If he were to post bail or bond, he must relinquish his passport.

Michael LaFlex
Michael Lee LaFlex.
Contributed

LaFlex was not appointed a public defender Tuesday and indicated he intends to hire a private attorney.

According to the criminal complaint filed by the Crow Wing County Attorney’s Office, 23-year-old Bryce Brogle was reported missing Friday after going to a storage unit rented by LaFlex two days earlier.

During the investigation, LaFlex initially told law enforcement Brogle was arrested by unknown law enforcement and Brogle had two cellphones confiscated by law enforcement. LaFlex later changed his story, saying he disposed of the phones in a garbage can at a gas station in Brainerd, according to the complaint. Investigating law enforcement officers found the phones.

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The complaint states further investigation included information gained from a concerned citizen, who wished to remain anonymous but was known to law enforcement. The citizen had occasional conversations throughout Saturday evening with a family member of LaFlex. The family member said LaFlex disclosed details of the incident with them, including that LaFlex believed Brogle had been abusing LaFlex’s daughter.

According to the citizen, the family member learned LaFlex shot Brogle at a storage unit complex in Crow Wing County on or around the evening of Oct. 26 and moved the body using a sled. LaFlex then cleaned the storage unit with bleach and told the family member he disposed of the body and Brogle would not be found as the body was buried, according to the complaint.

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Law enforcement executed a search warrant at LaFlex’s storage unit Saturday and recovered a substance testing positive for blood on the floor, along with a bottle of bleach. There were also marks on the concrete floor that appeared consistent with a similar width of a sled dragging across the floor.

Law enforcement conducted a foot search of public land Sunday in Crow Wing County looking for Brogle’s body. They identified a possible gravesite and excavated a body with an apparent gunshot wound to the back of the head. The body, later identified as Brogle’s, was transported to the Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s Office for an autopsy, which determined the cause of death to be a distant gunshot wound to the back of the head.

According to the criminal complaint, the Crow Wing County Sheriff’s Office received a phone call from the landlord of Brogle and LaFlex’s daughter. The landlord told investigators LaFlex had called to ask if Brogle hurt his daughter. The landlord admitted to witnessing possible signs of abuse. LaFlex then told the landlord he was going to kill Brogle and had already dug the hole, the criminal complaint stated.

LaFlex was booked Saturday in Crow Wing County Jail, where he remained Tuesday.

According to Minnesota court records, LaFlex has a previous criminal history.

In June 1999, he was convicted of third-degree criminal sexual conduct in Cass County after pleading guilty to the charge. The judge stayed the sentence and LaFlex was placed on supervised probation for five years.

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In September 2018, LaFlex was convicted of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct with a victim who was mentally impaired or otherwise helpless. LaFlex pleaded guilty in this case as well, and his sentence was stayed pending successful completion of two years of probation. In September 2020, the proceedings were dismissed after LaFlex was discharged from probation.

LaFlex’s case makes the third active murder prosecution in Crow Wing County, with all three of the cases originating in the same general geographic area. Other defendants include 30-year-old Cameron Jay Moser, accused of murdering Bethany Anne Bernatsky at Cozy Bay Resort north of Merrifield, and 53-year-old Michael Lowell Munger, accused of killing Lynnie Ann Loucks at a home they shared in the First Assessment District north of Brainerd.

Our newsroom occasionally reports stories under a byline of "staff." Often, the "staff" byline is used when rewriting basic news briefs that originate from official sources, such as a city press release about a road closure, and which require little or no reporting. At times, this byline is used when a news story includes numerous authors or when the story is formed by aggregating previously reported news from various sources. If outside sources are used, it is noted within the story.

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