Attorney General’s Office secures conviction in Cook County murder case

Thomas West convicted by jury of being accessory after the fact to 2021 murder of Ricky Balsimo, interference with dead body

AG’s office wins case after referral by and in partnership with Cook County Attorney

February 9, 2023 (SAINT PAUL) — Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison announced today that yesterday afternoon, Wednesday, February 8, 2023, a Cook County jury convicted Robert Thomas West of one count of being an accessory after the fact to murder and one count of interference with a dead body arising out of the murder of Ricky Balsimo on June 20, 2021.   

After Mr. Balsimo was murdered in Saint Paul, his body was transported to Superior, Wisconsin. There, West assisted in dismembering Mr. Balsimo’s body, placing it in several buckets and a tote. West then made arrangements with Tommie Hintz to transport Mr. Balsimo’s body to Grand Portage, Minnesota, where Hintz enlisted the help of an acquaintance who owned a boat to take West out onto Lake Superior. West dumped the buckets and tote containing Mr. Balsimo’s dismembered body into Lake Superior. West faces separate charges in Wisconsin for discarding the handgun used to kill Mr. Balsimo into Lake Superior, mutilating a corpse as party to a crime, harboring/aiding a felon, and possession of a firearm. 

Tommi Hintz has already pled guilty to one count of aiding an offender after the fact; her sentencing is pending. Jacob Colt Johnson is charged with one count of murder in the second degree for the death of Ricky Balsimo; his trial is scheduled for July 18, 2023, in Cook County.  

Attorney General Ellison’s office accepted and prosecuted the case upon the request of Cook County Attorney Molly Hicken under Minnesota Statutes Sec. 8.01, which provides, “Upon request of the county attorney, the attorney general shall appear in court in such criminal cases as the attorney general deems proper.” County Attorney Hicken worked closely with Assistant Attorney General Daniel Vlieger in this successful prosecution.  

“I’m proud of the attorneys in the Attorney General’s Office and the Cook County Attorney’s Office who brought this case to a successful conviction. I’m also proud of our partnerships with county attorneys who are on the front lines of delivering justice to victims and communities. We stand at the ready to assist them and look forward to doing more,” Attorney General Ellison said. “My thoughts today are with the victim’s family members who had to relive this horrific murder. I hope this conviction brings them accountability and one step closer toward healing.” 

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, the Wisconsin Department of Justice Crime Laboratories, and Douglas County, Wisconsin District Attorney’s Office the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office all assisted in the investigation.