Heidi Firkus’ deadly capturing captured on her 911 name to report an intruder

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“It by no means felt proper,” Sgt. Nichole Sipes of the Saint Paul Police Division tells “48 Hours” contributor Jamie Yuccas. “The story by no means made sense to me.”

A SHOOTING AT THE FRONT DOOR

Sgt. Nichole Sipes: I do.


911 OPERATOR: OK …

It was early on a Sunday morning.

Saint Paul Police responded to the house on Minnehaha Avenue after early morning 911 calls from Heidi and Nick Firkus.

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Sgt. Nichole Sipes: Most individuals are house at 6:30 on a Sunday morning, particularly in a household neighborhood like that. … the very last thing that almost all burglars need to encounter are individuals.


Jamie Yuccas: Did police ever have any luck monitoring down the intruder that Nick described?

Sgt. Nichole Sipes: No.

Branden O’Connor: I used to be woken up by the kittens kinda strolling round. … Some noise bought my consideration, so I caught my head out the window (factors to the window). Kinda hear.

Branden O’Connor: That is after I ended up listening to what appeared like gunshots.

Round this time, O’Connor stated he additionally heard that voice crying out.

Branden O’Connor: Type of this agonizing yell of, “you shot her, you shot me. Uh, please, please, no,” one thing alongside these traces after which — then it was accomplished.

Nick and Heidi Firkus

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SGT. KANE (on the hospital): Like I stated, we’ll do our greatest to learn the way, how Heidi is doing, OK?

NICK FIRKUS: Please.

Hours later, Nick was transported to the St. Paul Police Division.

Sgt. Jim Grey:  Then Nick and I began to have our dialog within the convention room.

NICK FIRKUS: OK.

Nick stated the couple ordered in meals the night time earlier than and watched the film “Avatar.” They went upstairs to their bed room round 11 p.m. The following morning, Nick bought up round 6 a.m. to get a drink of water from the toilet.

SGT. GRAY: And is Heidi nonetheless sleeping then?

NICK FIRKUS: Yeah.

SGT GRAY: OK.

NICK FIRKUS: Like a rock.


Husband suspected of killing spouse, mendacity about intruder

06:33

Nick stated he retrieved his shotgun from the closet.

SGT. GRAY: OK.

HEIDI FIRKUS (911 CALL): Somebody’s making an attempt to interrupt into my house.

SGT GRAY: Alright. So, you’re going first down the steps, or is she, is she behind you, or she in entrance of you, or what?

Nick stated as they handed by the entrance door, it burst open.

NICK FIRKUS (police interview) The man was there … I feel he — he grabbed the barrel. … I do not keep in mind precisely however the gun went off. So, my finger slipped onto the set off.

Nick instructed Sergeant Grey through the battle over the weapon, the gun fired, putting Heidi who he stated was within the kitchen.

HEIDI FIRKUS (to 911): [Heidi screams]


SGT. GRAY:  OK, so the gun’s —

NICK FIRKUS: Gun’s right here, chest excessive.

SGT. GRAY: Yep.

SGT. GRAY (stands to demonsrate):  You and I are like this?

NICK FIRKUS: Yeah.

SGT. GRAY: After which the gun goes off?

SGT. GRAY: It hit her within the again?

NICK FIRKUS: Yeah.

Katina Sarazin: it might probably’t be true, that is — there is not any means.

Katina Sarazin: I feel she’s a type of individuals you could’t not like. Everybody preferred Heidi. … She genuinely beloved individuals … she was the lifetime of the social gathering … all the time discovering enjoyable methods to interact individuals. … and he or she was very loyal.

Nick and Heidi Firkus

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The couple met on the church, and in 2005, Heidi, 20, and Nick, 22, bought married.

NICK FIRKUS: Yeah, I suppose the …

NICK FIRKUS: If we will save ourselves, let’s, let’s try this as a substitute of getting in a scenario the place —

Sgt. Jim Grey: His story, did not make loads of sense to me.

Grey began probing into their marriage.

SGT. GRAY: You guys, uh, have any issues or something like that?

SGT. GRAY: Yeah.

NICK FIRKUS: However —

SGT. GRAY: You guys aren’t behind on the payments or something like that?

NICK FIRKUS: We’re behind on the payments which is a bit of disturbing. … The truth is we had been planning on shifting tomorrow. Um —

SGT. GRAY: Transferring the place?

SGT. GRAY: Nicely, that is form of, I imply, kinda shut discover.

SGT. GRAY: She did not make it.

NICK FIRKUS: I figured that. I imply —

Sgt. Nichole Sipes: Not solely is that not typical, that that is how they’d ask it, however they would not wait an hour and 40 minutes into this dialog to ask that query.

Jamie Yuccas: And that demeanor was?

Skeptical of Nick’s story, Grey confronted Nick about what occurred that day.

SGT. GRAY (police interview):, I, you understand, a part of me desires to ask you this query … Did you will have something to do with this?

NICK FIRKUS: No, completely not.

SGT. GRAY: OK.

NICK FIRKUS Completely not.

SGT. GRAY: Alright.

NICK FIRKUS: Why is there part of you that desires to ask that?

SGT. GRAY: Nicely, Nick. I am, I am a police officer, OK? I bought to ask, I bought to ask the robust questions, alright?

Sgt. Jim Grey: Nothing was packaged up in any respect. … the closet was nonetheless full of garments. … We observed that there was nonetheless meals within the fridge.

And there was one thing else that investigators questioned.

A LOOK AT THE EVIDENCE

However Grey says the proof on the scene did not match Nick’s account.

The Firkus’ entryway didn’t seem to indicate indicators of a battle.

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Grey says he examined the entrance door for indicators of a break-in and did discover some markings.

In his interview with police, Nick stated he heard somebody twiddling with the entrance door from upstairs.

NICK FIRKUS: Yeah.

SGT. GRAY: Kinda like that?

SGT. GRAY: OK.

NICK FIRKUS: — and shoving the door.

That day, Grey and his colleagues did a reenactment to find out if they may hear the entrance door shaking from the bed room.

SGT. GRAY (police video): April twenty seventh, 2010.

OFFICER: I am within the bed room …

Sgt. Jim Grey: Sergeant Shackle and Sergeant Wright had been upstairs within the bed room.

SGT. GRAY: I am on the entrance door, so let me know while you guys are prepared, I am going to attempt to knock for 15 seconds then….

OFFICER: We’re prepared.

Sgt. Jim Grey: They might not hear me twiddling with the door.

SGT. GRAY: Alright.

Grey says he additionally doubted Nick’s story in regards to the couple’s eviction, and a scheduled transfer the day after Heidi was shot.

“She was real and he or she beloved deep,” Marcus Sarazin stated of Heidi Firkus.

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On April 30, 2010, 5 days after her passing, the Sarazins attended Heidi’s funeral.

Katina Sarazin: I keep in mind going by means of the receiving line and shaking his hand … there was no grief exhibiting.

Sgt. Jim Grey: From what we gathered throughout our investigation, Nick and Heidi had been in a loving relationship. There was no issues or points that anyone noticed.

The day after the capturing, Nick’s household employed legal professional Joe Friedberg who suggested Nick to cease speaking to the police.

When investigators requested Nick to sit down down with their artist to attract a sketch of the intruder, Friedberg suggested him to not.

As an alternative, Nick and his legal professional employed their very own sketch artist.

Sgt. Jim Grey: It was fairly odd that Nick would work with a personal … sketch artist.

And introduced that drawing to police.

Because the weeks glided by, Nick Firkus supplied a sketch of the suspect to investigators. It was launched it to the general public however didn’t generate any leads. 

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Investigators launched Nick’s sketch to the general public, but it surely did not generate any leads, they stored working the case…Nick moved out of their house just a few weeks after Heidi’s demise.

Two months later, he started a friendship with the sister of one in every of Heidi’s finest mates, Rachel Sanchez, who was going by means of a divorce.

Rachel says the 2 bonded over their religion. They started courting within the spring of 2011.

One yr into their relationship, Nick proposed.

Rachel Sanchez and Nick Firkus on their wedding ceremony day. Rachel says the 2 bonded over their religion.

Rachel Firkus


And some months later, the couple married. They began a household.

And shortly had been the dad and mom of three kids.

Andrew Erickson: He completely loves his children a lot.

Andrew and Emily Erickson are mates of Nick. They are saying for a very long time, Nick did not discuss a lot about Heidi’s homicide.

However they are saying when he did discuss it, his story was all the time the identical.

Jamie Yuccas: What did he inform you?

— and put a reputation to Nick’s sketch.

A NEW LOOK AT THE CASE

Sgt. Nichole Sipes: He was already in jail on the date of Heidi’s demise. 

Police discovered it odd Nick by no means checked in. 

Prosecutors Rachel Kraker and Elizabeth Lamin joined the investigation in 2015. 

Jamie Yuccas: Was this case ever thought-about a chilly case?

Elizabeth Lamin: Heidi’s household … would verify in on her birthday …. Is there something, new growth? 

Sgt. Nichole Sipes of the Saint Paul Police Division stated Nick Firkus’ account of an intruder “by no means felt proper. … the story by no means made sense to me.”

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And there could be new developments when Sipes took over Heidi’s case in 2019.

Jamie Yuccas: It appears her recent set of eyes actually made an enormous distinction.

Rachel Kraker: It was completely important 

Elizabeth Lamin: I feel Sipes positively restarted one thing.

Sipes dug deep — reviewing your entire case file, together with an examination of a monetary timeline she compiled with the assistance of the FBI.

Sgt. Nichole Sipes: I had the luxurious of trying again on all of these items a number of years later. 

However Lamin says the house buy in 2007 strained the couple’s funds. 

By the point Heidi died in April 2010, the couple was deeply in debt.

Sgt. Nichole Sipes: He had not paid the mortgage in 22 months.

The truth is, the couple had misplaced their house to foreclosures and could be compelled to maneuver out. However Sipes found Heidi apparently had no thought. After reviewing the couple’s texts and emails, Sipes noticed no proof Nick ever instructed Heidi they had been in monetary hassle.

Sgt. Nichole Sipes: There was no communication between the 2 of them to point that she had any thought of the depth of their monetary points.

Sgt. Nichole Sipes: I used to be in a position to decide by means of the foreclosures and eviction attorneys that there was no paperwork Heidi had signed, that no one had ever talked to Heidi, no one met Heidi. … Heidi did not go to the eviction listening to on March eighth, 2010.

Sipes says Nick and Heidi’s household and mates did not know the couple needed to relocate. 

Jamie Yuccas: So she was planning to go to work?

Elizabeth Lamin: Sure.

Jamie Yuccas: Why do you suppose he stored her at midnight so lengthy?

Sgt. Nichole Sipes: Disgrace. … I consider he was involved in regards to the disgrace of what he had accomplished, how it will look … that he could not come clear along with her. … , it had gotten too massive at that time.

And when Sipes talked to the couple’s mates, she discovered why Nick needed to cover their monetary scenario.

Sgt. Nichole Sipes: He was described by his mates as being smart and being the individual that they might go to for recommendation.

Jamie Yuccas: What does that inform you as you are investigating the case and also you see somebody in that kind of character?

Sgt. Nichole Sipes: Wasn’t true. They weren’t the victims. … This was all unfaithful.

However as Sipes tried to determine if there was a connection between Nick’s lies and Heidi’s demise, she discovered Nick and Rachel had divorced.

And that Nick had additionally stored secrets and techniques from her.

Jamie Yuccas: Did Rachel ever say something about why their marriage dissolved?

Sgt. Nichole Sipes: She did. … There have been monetary points between the 2 of them … Nick was mendacity about loads of issues.

WHAT DID RACHEL FIRKUS KNOW?

Sgt. Nichole Sipes: Might there even have been an intruder? 

NICK FIRKUS (police interview): She was working away so it positively hit her within the again …

Sgt. Nichole Sipes: What actually issues is what occurred in that lobby. … and there was no third individual.

Jamie Yuccas: You by no means discovered anybody else’s DNA?

Jamie Yuccas: They usually had been?

Sgt. Nichole Sipes: Nick and Heidi. 

As a part of the brand new investigation, Sipes reached out to Nick’s second spouse Rachel. What did she know? 

At first, Rachel, then divorced from Nick, says she was reluctant to speak.

Rachel instructed Sipes Nick had lied about their funds throughout their marriage.

Rachel Firkus says Nick’s dishonesty began to make her query whether or not he had additionally lied about Heidi’s demise.

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Throughout that point, Rachel says Nick’s dishonesty began to make her query whether or not he had additionally lied about Heidi’s demise.

Rachel secretly recorded the dialog on her cellphone.

RACHEL FIRKUS (on audio recording): And the truth that your mendacity was really easy so that you can do in entrance of me again and again and over. Makes me suppose —

NICK FIRKUS (on audio recording): That I may homicide my spouse?

RACHEL FIRKUS (on audio recording): — that you may lie about one thing.

NICK FIRKUS (on audio recording):  That I may homicide my spouse.

RACHEL FIRKUS (on audio recording): Sure.

NICK FIRKUS (on audio recording):  Oh— 

RACHEL FIRKUS: Once I hear, I feel “this silence kills me.”

Rachel later shared the recordings with Sipes.

Sgt. Nichole Sipes: The habits that he exhibited in his marriage with Rachel was virtually duplicative of … how he hid issues from Heidi.

Elizabeth Lamin: We can not let this man be out on the road any longer. 

For prosecutor Elizabeth Lamin, the time had come to behave. 

Elizabeth Lamin: I instructed Sergeant Sipes …  “we’re charging him. Let’s do it.”

Eleven years after Heidi’s demise, Nick Firkus was arrested and charged with second-degree homicide. A grand jury in the end indicted Nick on first- and second-degree homicide prices.

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Katina Sarazin: I felt grateful. 

Emily Erickson: We do not perceive.

Nick’s mates Emily and Andrew Erickson.

Emily Erickson: It’s a must to consider {that a} good man with no historical past of violence … killed the girl that he beloved greater than something in life for no cause. … That is what you need to consider. We won’t get there.

Natalie Micheal: I went into it with an open thoughts. 

Natalie Micheal served on the jury. 

Jamie Yuccas: Did he seem like a person who would kill his spouse?

Natalie Micheal: No, he didn’t. .. Rather a lot by means of the trial … he was placing his head down … once they confirmed the photographs of the 2 of them collectively, you understand he appeared like he actually was in love along with her. 

Elizabeth Lamin: I feel Nick was … somebody who … lived two lives.

Elizabeth Lamin: All of his form of playing cards of lies are about to crumble. … He would have been uncovered as a whole failure, a liar … to his mates and neighborhood. And as a substitute, he is a sufferer. … He walks away from this … supported by his mates, supported by his household. 

Joe Friedberg: Nick had no cause. 

Heidi and Nick Firkus

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Nick’s legal professionals Joe Friedberg and Robert Richman say that merely is mindless as a motive. 

Robert Richman: There was nothing about murdering the girl who everybody agreed he beloved that might assist his scenario.

They usually say the state’s competition that Heidi did not know in regards to the couple’s funds merely was not true. 

Natalie Michael: At first, I used to be questioning how she could not know … in regards to the funds or a few of the foreclosures or a few of the issues taking place. 

However Natalie Micheal says the prosecution’s case didn’t hinge on motive. 

Robert Richman: On the scene —

Robert Richman: On the hospital —

Robert Richman: — and to Sergeant Grey.

NICK FIRKUS (police interview): The man that was there, I feel he, he grabbed the barrel … 

OFFICER (hospital interview): And what else are you able to describe from him …

NICK FIRKUS: Gloves.

OFFICER: He is sporting gloves. 

Joe Friedberg: You do not all the time go away DNA and particularly when your palms are coated.

However prosecutors say there was one thing else lacking from the scene in addition to fingerprints.

Jamie Yuccas: So what am I taking a look at right here?


What did investigators discover on the Firkus’ Minnesota house?

02:23

Elizabeth Lamin: This can be a bodily mannequin to scale that was created by the FBI. 

Jamie Yuccas (present and inform): As an example the intruder will get in … they’ve the battle….

Elizabeth Lamin: They usually have this life and demise battle proper on this space with nothing disturbed.

Jamie Yuccas: On the desk?

Elizabeth Lamin: Precisely. … After which Heidi will get shot sq. within the again in a really clear shot.

Animation created by the FBI reveals that the bullet that killed Heidi was most definitely shot from shoulder stage.

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Animation created by the FBI reveals that the bullet that killed Heidi was most definitely shot from shoulder stage.

Elizabeth Lamin: The peak at which Heidi is shot matches precisely on Nick’s shoulder to intention and to fireplace.

Nick’s attorneys say there was direct proof that confirmed there was an intruder. 

Robert Richman: The truth is, there have been instrument marks within the door, which might be in keeping with somebody wedging a screwdriver between the body and the door. 

Branden O’Connor: ” … you shot her, you shot me. Uh, please, please, no,” one thing alongside these traces… 

However prosecutors say O’Connor could have misheard Nick whereas he was on the cellphone with the 911 dispatcher.

Elizabeth Lamin: He’s screaming about being shot … And he did that over virtually seven minutes.   

NICK FIRKUS (TO 911): Please!

911 OPERATOR: Please keep on the cellphone with me, OK?

Emily Erickson: If there’s something on this case, there’s cheap doubt.

Andrew Erikson: Yeah.

JUSTICE FOR HEIDI

Elizabeth Lamin: It was a hard-fought litigated trial. 

Elizabeth Lamin: We had nice, we thought, circumstantial proof that what Nick stated occurred didn’t occur. 

Joseph Friedberg: It isn’t sufficient when you’ve got a hunch.

Joseph Friedberg: There was no direct proof that Nick murdered his spouse. 

In her closing argument, Prosecutor Kraker stated Nick shot Heidi whereas she was on the cellphone with the 911 operator. 

911 OPERATOR: Somebody’s making an attempt, west … 

[Gunshots heard] 

HEIDI FIRKUS: [Screams]

911 OPERATOR: The place’s the man that shot you? 

Rachel Kraker: At 65 seconds … there was greater than sufficient time for all of that to occur.

To show their concept Nick shot himself within the thigh, they level to marks left by shotgun pellets on the backside of the entrance door.  

To show their concept Nick shot himself within the thigh, they level to marks left by shotgun pellets on the backside of the entrance door.

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Elizabeth Lamin: When he shot himself, we consider that Nick was about right here (places mannequin going through the entrance door)

Elizabeth Lamin: Which is how you’d brace your self, most likely towards the door … in the event you’re doing it to your self. 

Robert Richman: What they reenacted was … 65 seconds, which was … ignoring the 2 misdials, which occurred at 38 seconds.

Emily Erickson: This is not blind perception.

Nick’s mates Emily and Andrew Erickson had been satisfied the prosecution did not show Nick was the shooter. 

Andrew Erickson: We had been open to listening to … an inconsistency of what Nick stated … however that did not occur.

On Feb. 10, 2023, the jurors bought the case and in 5 hours returned with a verdict.

The Sarazins had been within the courtroom when the decision was learn. 

For Sergeant Sipes, there may be nonetheless the thriller of what led to the couple’s monetary issues.

Sgt. Nichole Sipes: We weren’t in a position to definitively say what the cash was spent on.

Sgt. Nichole Sipes: Drastically. I feel it will assist full the image for some individuals. 

Peter Erickson (in court docket): Rising up, Heidi was the quintessential little sister to me.

Peter Erickson Is Heidi’s brother.

Nick Firkus reads a press release at his sentencing. He refused to confess guilt.

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NICK FIRKUS (in court docket): I do preserve and can preserve to my dying breath my innocence of this crime … my physique stands condemned to serve one other man’s sentence. However my soul, my soul stays free.

Choose Leonardo Castro imposed the utmost sentence.

JUDGE CASTRO: It’s the sense of regulation and judgment of this court docket that you simply be dedicated to the fee of corrections for the rest of your life with out the potential for launch … Good luck to you sir, Godspeed.

“She positively lived a lifetime of love,” Katina Sarazin stated of Heidi. “That was the mark that she left. And that is arduous to let go.”

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Nick’s second spouse Rachel usually thinks about Heidi, too.

Katina Sarazin: Heidi was a real, loving, honest younger girl who needed to dwell life to the fullest.

Produced by Asena Basak and Paul LaRosa; Jordan Kinsey is the sector producer; Ryan Smith and Michelle Fanucci are the event producers; Richard Barber and  Michael Baluzy  are the editors; Anthony Batson  is the senior producer; Nancy Kramer is the chief story editor; Judy Tygard is the chief producer.


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