On May 8, 1997, Mark Antonio Profit, 33, was found guilty of the strangulation death the previous May of prostitute Renee Bell, who's body was found floating in a creek in Theodore Wirth Park in Minneapolis. Profit was also found guilty of two counts of the sexual attack on another woman.
Profit, who has spent nearly one-half of his life in prison for violence and sexual assaults, was known as the "Wirth Park Killer". According to a county attorney Profit has been out of prison for only a year since he was 15 years old. Police believe Bell was the first of four victims in a four-month serial killing spree. His three other suspected victims are, Deborah LaVoie, 43, whose burned body was found June 3 in Wirth Park; Avis Warfield, 36, found June 19 near the park, and Keooudorn Photisane, 21, found July 29 in bushes near a bike path and the park's golf course.
After the verdict Assistant County Attorney Mike Furnstahl said: "In 12 years as a prosecutor, I've never seen a more dangerous psychopath than Mark Profit." Defense attorneys Robert Miller and Charles Amdahl said Profit was devastated and surprised by the verdict. On June 2 Judge Peter Lindberg sentenced Profit to two consecutive life terms for the murder of Bell and the rape of another woman.
Profit, 35, has spent more than half of his life in prison for rapes, robberies, assaults and now, murder. Because of his 1997 convictions for the first-degree murder of Renee Bell and the attempted rape of another woman, he won't be eligible for parole until he's 93.
Though new DNA tests on a cigarette butt have linked him to Avis Warfield's death, Profit said that he wants to be charged with her murder. It's undisputed that Profit was in jail when Warfield's stabbed and burned body was discovered on June 19, 1996, in front of a house where he once lived. What is disputed is whether Profit was locked up on a parole violation when she was stabbed. He insists he was in the Hennepin County jail; authorities say he had not yet been arrested.
During his 1997 trial, Profit and one of his attorneys, Charles Amdahl, argued unsuccessfully that Profit's wallet was planted at the Bell murder scene. They blame a man named Paul Kelly Jr. Now, Profit contends that Kelly planted the cigarette butt near Warfield's body. Profit offers no reason why Kelly would frame him except to say there was trouble between the two because Kelly was dating Profit's sister.
Profit knows the legal system from the inside. By 15, he had 30 felony arrests or charges on his record. Facing more counts, he agreed to plead guilty to aggravated assault with a weapon -- a sawed-off shotgun -- and be sentenced as an adult to two years. Eight counts were dropped. He was the youngest Minnesotan sent to prison, and since then he's never had more than a year of freedom. Seventeen days after Profit's release from a Minneapolis halfway house, Bell was murdered during what appeared to be a sexual assault. Fibers found in a tan elastic band used to gag and strangle her matched some found in the trunk of a car that Profit drove.
On September or October, 2001, Profit was found dead in his cell at the Minnesota Correctional Facility in Oak Park Heights. Not one to take prison life lightly, on August, 2001, he was charged with attempted murder on a prison guard and was facing an additional 20+ years to his four life sentences.