Baffling violence left lone bicyclist dying on a lawn

The Minneapolis father of four took a nighttime jaunt carrying nothing of value. His slaying has shocked family and friends.

By Terry Collins and Mary Lynn Smith, Star Tribune

Thumb blisters aside, Mark Loesch was excited about the new tire he put on his rebuilt bicycle late Wednesday.

When his wife, Samantha, went to bed after they watched the 10 p.m. news, Loesch told her he was going out for a "quick spin." She thought nothing of it.

"He might have been coming to my house," said Gene Chadwick, his best friend and frequent riding partner. "It wouldn't be unlike him to pop over and say 'Hello.'" He never arrived.

About halfway between his house and Chadwick's, in the 3700 block of Elliot Avenue S., Loesch was found barely breathing on a front lawn about 7 a.m. Thursday. He was dead by the time paramedics arrived.

Police say the 41-year-old father of four is the city's 35th homicide victim this year. He died from "severe trauma." His bike was found nearby.

So far there is no explanation for what happened to him.

"It's been tearing Samantha up inside after she found out Mark had been lying in somebody's front yard in pain and agony all night long," said Will Vervair of Maple Grove, a childhood friend.

Loesch, an information technology consultant, was an avid bicyclist, and it was common for him to ride at night, said Chadwick. Sometimes they would ride together. The two planned to ride together in Sunday's Minneapolis Bike Tour.

Standing outside his friend's home Friday afternoon, Chadwick envisioned the route Loesch, a "man of action" with "legs of steel," might have taken from his home on Wentworth Avenue to Chadwick's some 20 blocks away.

Loesch likely would have biked over a pedestrian bridge on E. 40th Street that overlooks Interstate 35W en route and "likely ran into trouble along the way."

He'd left his wallet and cell phone at home, Chadwick said.

'Somebody saw something'

Loesch owned four bikes and had spent the past two weeks rebuilding the fixed-gear bicycle he rode Wednesday. Loesch had asked Chadwick to get the new tire with him, but he passed.

"Maybe if I'd have gone ... " said Chadwick, his voice trailing off.

"He was such a strong, active, fit guy," Chadwick continued. "You would think somebody saw something."

Samantha Loesch called police early Thursday after she woke to find that her husband of 16 years had not returned home, Vervair said.

About an hour after she gave them his description, a police chaplain arrived at her front door with the news, Vervair said.

"She's trying to be strong for the kids," Chadwick said.

The incident has upset residents of the block where Loesch's body was found. On Thursday afternoon, City Council Member Elizabeth Glidden was knocking on doors, asking residents if they saw or heard anything and to help provide police.

"I'm so angry and shocked at this horrible violence in our community," Glidden said Friday. "In one sense it leaves me both at a loss for words and at the same time saying we must seek action."

Witnesses told police they did see a man matching the victim's description riding a bicycle in the area.

Anyone with information is asked to call the tips line at 612-692-TIPS.

Funeral services will be at 2 p.m. Tuesday at Lakewood Cemetery in Minneapolis.

'Whip-smart' sense of humor

On Friday, friends described Loesch as a guy with a "passion for life who liked to laugh and make others laugh," Vervair said.

Chadwick, who met Loesch through his wife about 13 years ago, said they both shared the same "super quick wit," and could find humor in almost anything.

Jim Balabuszko-Reay worked with Loesch at Healthia Consulting, an information technology company in Golden Valley. He said he and other colleagues were shocked when they learned Loesch was killed. "This is a horrible nightmare," he said. "For something so random to happen, it was just a shock. He is such a sweet person."

On the job at Healthia Consulting, Loesch was known as a "great leader" with a wonderful sense of humor.

"He had a whip-smart way of making you laugh," Balabuszko-Reay said.

A devoted father of three girls and one boy ranging in age from 3 to 14, Loesch could be found on his knees playing with plastic horses with his daughter or building LEGO robots with his son.

"He always tried to fit three days into one," Balabuszko-Reay said.

Most days, Loesch either biked or ran. "He was an exercise nut," Balabuszko-Reay said. "He biked to work every day on a single-gear bike from basically March through December. Mark didn't do snow."

After work, he ate dinner with the family and spent some time with the kids until they went to bed.

And often on a whim, he would bike to a friend's house.

"He tried to be safe," Balabuszko-Reay said. "He wouldn't carry anything that would make him 'muggable' -- maybe just $10 in his pocket."It's so unfathomable," Chadwick's wife, Amy McNally, said Friday. "He was halfway to our house."

Staff writer Tim Harlow contributed to this report. tcollins@startribune.com • 612-673-1790 mlsmith@startribune.com • 612-673-4788

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

This bullshit smells alot like "the Knockout Kings", who are believed to have beat the shit of another fella, just days before as he was getting on the Greenway. This is horseshit, the fact that there are now four fatherless kids, and a widow, for no reason at all. VIGILANTE-ISM is the answer. Theese son of a bitches with absolutely no regard for other humans should be hunted down and beaten to death, not just un-conciousness, death. They deserve to be beaten by a group of cyclists and citzens and killed. As far as I am concerned they do not deserve to live any longer. They have given up their rights to exist. SO, anyone who is interested, step up and lets do what the so-called police cant seem to do, catch these SOBs and inflict some justice. One swing of the bat at a time!

2:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

oh yaeh thats me B-rose-- Z

2:19 AM  

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