25-year-old homicide victim was staying one night at building where fire was set
NAYTAHWAUSH, Minn. - Megan Londo was trying to get her life in order just as it was taken from her.
The 25-year-old had gone through drug treatment, her parents say, and was looking for a place to work and live with her two young sons in Moorhead. Then in a tragic turn her family is at a loss to comprehend, Londo was found dead Friday at the scene of an apparent Moorhead arson - one of two victims of what authorities say is a double homicide.
"This was all wrong place at the wrong time," said her stepfather, Don Adams.
Londo was found in the basement apartment of a three-unit complex at 901 9th Ave. S., along with the body of John Cadotte, a 20-year-old Moorhead man.
Police have made few details about the investigation public. They won't say how the fire relates to the deaths.
Authorities have said they're looking for a "person of interest," Tracy Zornes, a 38-year-old from Naytahwaush, the village on the White Earth Reservation where Londo also lived.
Londo's family said they don't know either Zornes or Cadotte, but the connection between Londo and Cadotte is tenant Cassandra Cruz, who was renting the apartment where they were found.
Terri Londo said her daughter, Megan, had been dating Chris Cruz, Cassandra's brother, and was planning to stay with Cassandra over the weekend. Londo planned to move into the YWCA shelter in Fargo and had an appointment there on Monday, Adams said.
A YWCA employee who answered the phone there Tuesday said the organization can't disclose information about clients.
Police said Monday that Cruz was out of town the night Cadotte and Londo stayed at her apartment.
Abelardo Cruz said his daughter was in Wahpeton, N.D., staying with a friend when the fire occurred. She had agreed to let her friends, Megan Londo and John Cadotte, stay in the Moorhead apartment that night because they needed a place to stay.
Attempts to reach Cassandra Cruz were not successful. Cadotte's mother couldn't be reached for comment, either.
Clarence Collins, who lived above Cruz in the apartment building, said it sounded like four to six people were in the basement unit Thursday night, the night before the fire.
Collins and his wife, Shellyann Parsons, said they were awake watching movies and heard noise downstairs until about 4:40 a.m. Friday.
"It was a lot of activity going on down there," Collins said.
The fire was reported just after 7 a.m.
Moorhead police won't comment about it, but a car Cadotte recently purchased is missing. Police went to All City Auto in Fargo over the weekend to ask about a car that is linked to the fire investigation.
Gene Gebeke, salesman and part owner of All City Auto, said he sold a 1993 red Honda Civic to Cadotte on Feb. 1.
Police said the car, which had All City Auto plates, was missing and contacted the company to see if it had been repossessed, Gebeke said. It has not been repossessed, Gebeke said.
"I imagine whoever torched the place took the car," Gebeke said.
Fire investigators think the apparently intentional fire was set in Cassandra Cruz's apartment, where the bodies were found. She moved into the unit Jan. 4, said Nazar Habib of Rkak Property Management.
Moorhead police were called to Cruz's apartment two separate times before the fire. On Jan. 11, police received a report from that apartment of an unwanted ex-boyfriend, records show.
On Feb. 3, police responded to a domestic assault in the same apartment. Further information about the calls was not available Tuesday.
Moorhead Police Chief Dave Ebinger said the domestic assault report does not directly relate to the fire investigation.
Prior to Cruz moving into the building, Moorhead police had received nine calls to that address since August.
Other residents of the apartment complex displaced by the fire have been relocated to a building nearby that had vacancies, Habib said.
The Salvation Army continues to work with the victims to meet their emergency needs, said Steve Carbno, business administrator and disaster services coordinator.
The Rev. Josh Graber of Trinity Lutheran Church in Moorhead said he is planning a private memorial service for Cadotte.
Londo's family plans to schedule services for her after they get her remains back from the medical examiner, which wouldn't happen before today, Adams said.
Now the family is waiting and hoping for answers.
"I've just got to know what happened," said Terri Londo. "I just can't imagine someone being that cruel."
Though Megan had her ups and downs, recently going through treatment for a pill addiction, her mother and stepfather said Megan was a hard worker who loved Native American culture, going to powwows as far away as California.
Terri Londo said her daughter was like her as a child, "always bossing her brothers around." Adams said Megan loved to ice skate and go fishing and was adamant about a clean home.
"Every day," Adams said. "Every day that girl cleaned."
Her two sons - 8-year-old Dyami and 2-year-old Brian - are now staying with Adams and Londo in Naytahwaush, 80 miles northeast of Fargo-Moorhead.
Adams said he was urging the 25-year-old to go into a medical field such as nursing, something her mother said she was working toward.
"She wanted to go to school," Londo said. "That was her goal."