St. Paul police ID handyman, resident killed in sober-house stabbings – Twin Cities

St. Paul police investigate a double homicide in the 1100 block of East Lawson Avenue on Thursday, Oct. 20, 2022. (Ellie Roth/Pioneer Press)

Helping people was important to Jason Murphy and he was doing just that — working as a handyman — when he was killed last week in St. Paul.

On Monday police identified the two men fatally stabbed in a Payne-Phalen residence on Thursday as Murphy, 40, and Jon R. Wentz, 56.

The parents of Murphy said Monday they have many questions about what happened and the biggest is why the suspect was allowed to live in a sober-living house.

“It’s very senseless, very unfortunate and very sad,” Marsha Murphy said.

The Ramsey County attorney’s office charged Joseph Francis Sandoval II, 32, on Friday with two counts of second-degree murder. He had just moved into the residence at the 1100 block of Lawson Avenue. Last year, he was civilly committed for being mentally ill and chemically dependent. He had several pending charges, including for first-degree assault.

Joseph Francis Sandoval II booking photoJoseph Francis Sandoval II (Courtesy of Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office)

Murphy was doing work in the home and Wentz was a resident, according to the criminal complaint against Sandoval. Police said they were both St. Paul residents.

Sandoval told police that he sat down on the couch in the home and the “TV kept saying ‘take your opportunity,’ so I took my opportunity.” When an investigator asked Sandoval what he meant, he said, “The TV said they’re going to kill me.”

Sandoval made his first court appearance in the case on Monday and a judge ordered an evaluation about his competency to proceed with the court case.

Murphy was a caring, quiet man, and the father of a 15-year-old, said his parents, Bob and Marsha Murphy.

“It really meant a lot to him to help, especially the less fortunate, because he’s had some hard times in life,” Marsha Murphy said.

A man works on a wood project. Jason Murphy’s mother says this photo shows him doing what he did best — wood working. (courtesy photo)

Jason Murphy especially enjoyed woodworking and made “beautiful furniture” that was inlaid with different types of wood, his mother said. He previously worked for a bathtub repair and refinishing company that his parents used to own.

“He did the actual work and he was very, very good at it — very particular about how he did things,” Marsha Murphy said. “He liked things to be done well and that followed into when he started to make things out of wood.”

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