More than 11 years ago, Heidi Firkus, an artist and avid churchgoer who loved watching rom-coms, was fatally shot in her Minnesota home.
Her husband, Nicholas Firkus, said someone broke into their St. Paul home at about 6:30 a.m. on April 25, 2010. He grabbed his shotgun and tried to fight off the intruder but, in the process, the gun went off twice, hitting his 25-year-old wife in the back, the Twin Cities Pioneer Press reported at the time. Nicholas, 27, was shot in the leg.
Nicholas Firkus was a “victim not a perpetrator,” his lawyer said at the time.
But in a dramatic turnaround on Wednesday, a SWAT team took Firkus into custody in a pre-dawn raid after the Ramsey County attorney’s office charged him with murder. It’s not yet clear what led to the extraordinary reversal. Firkus will appear in court on Thursday.
“We’re extremely grateful for all those who have worked so hard and long to get the case to this point. And also for everyone who has prayed and stood beside us all these years,” Heidi’s family said in a statement to FOX 9. “We are hopeful that these charges will finally bring out the truth and result in justice for Heidi. Even though we know we can’t have her back, we believe Heidi would want us to have the truth. God is honored by truth. Heidi’s life and memory is further honored by truth."
Heidi met her husband at church, where they both worked as youth group leaders. They married in 2005 and moved in together to the two-story home on a tree-lined street in the Hamline-Midway neighborhood.
But, in a search warrant affidavit filed in 2010 seeking the couple’s credit reports, it emerged that they were in dire financial straits.
Their home had been under foreclosure proceedings and they were due to be evicted the day after Heidi was killed. Nothing in the house had been sold or packed up, investigators said, and despite a mountain of unpaid bills and outstanding credit balances, the couple seemed to have a “lifestyle of wanton spending outside of their means," the affidavit said.
Although Nicholas later told police that Heidi knew about their financial issues, numerous family and close friends told investigators that they believed she was in the dark.
Police never found any evidence of forced entry to the home or any witnesses who saw an intruder. “The neighborhood is densely populated and it was light at the time of the incident,” the 2010 search affidavit said.
Two years after Heidi’s death, Nicholas remarried. That marriage ended in divorce in 2019. He stopped talking to the police the day after Heidi died.
Meanwhile, Heidi’s family and friends were left searching for answers. In a 2019 Pioneer Press article, they pleaded for renewed help to solve the decade-old case and said Heidi would never have kept her financial troubles a secret.
“She was never ashamed about being vulnerable or having hard conversations,” Jessie Bain, a childhood friend, said.
They recalled her seeming happy and normal in the lead up to her death, even going on a trip to Hawaii with her husband.
“There are so many things that don’t add up,” Ashley Starr, a teenage friend, said at the time.