Brainerd man, 29, charged in resort cabin killing; he might have shot the wrong woman, sheriff says

Brainerd man, 29, charged in resort cabin killing; he might have shot the wrong woman, sheriff says

BRAINERD, Minn. — A 29-year-old Brainerd man faces a murder charge for the shooting death of a woman Thursday at Cozy Bay Resort on Lake Edward north of Merrifield.

Cameron Jay Moser was charged Monday in Crow Wing County District Court with felony second-degree murder with intent but not premeditation in connection with the shooting death of Bethany Anne Bernatsky, 46.

Cameron Jay Moser, 29, of Brainerd, Minn., was charged Oct. 12, 2021, in the fatal shooting of Bethany Anne Bernatsky at Cozy Bay Resort on Lake Edward north of Merrifield, Minn. The complaint didn’t detail a motive, but the Crow Wing County sheriff told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that Moser might have meant to shoot his 26-year-old former girlfriend instead. (Crow Wing County Sheriff’s Office via Forum News Service)

It was not clear from the criminal complaint filed against Moser whether he and Bernatsky knew each other or what the motive was for the shooting. The complaint stated Moser had familiarity with Cozy Bay Resort as he used to be in a relationship with the previous owners’ daughter, and the previous week he had been at the nearby Mollie Lake RV Park asking about her.

However, Crow Wing County Sheriff Scott Goddard told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that investigators are trying to determine whether Moser had intended to shoot the 26-year-old daughter, not Bernatsky.

The families of both women agreed that was a possibility.

Goddard did not disclose why Moser might have targeted the 26-year-old woman, but her father told the newspaper that the couple had broken up.

Bret Jevning said Moser was angry that his daughter had overcome a drug addiction while he continued to abuse them himself.

According to the criminal complaint filed against Moser:

At 11:04 p.m. Thursday, Crow Wing County sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to Cozy Bay Resort for a shooting complaint. The person making the complaint reported hearing numerous gunshots inside and outside an adjoining cabin. Two other people called 911 after hearing the gunshots and made reports.

Responding law enforcement located the suspect, later identified as Moser, at 11:22 p.m. across the road from the Cozy Bay Resort, near the Mollie Lake RV Park. Moser was carrying a rifle and also in possession of a handgun, according to the complaint.

Officers talked with Moser for the next 90 minutes, during which time he was holding both firearms — an AR-style rifle and a silver revolver. At 12:50 a.m., deputies arrested Moser and secured the weapons. Moser also had an extra magazine for the rifle, according to the complaint.

After Moser was taken into custody, members of the Crow Wing County Tactical Response Team checked the cabins near the location of the original shooting complaint. An investigator approached the front door of the cabin where the shooting took place and saw the interior entry door to be open, allowing him to see inside.

The investigator saw a woman lying at the end of a hallway with a large pool of blood under her head. He also saw two bullet holes in a second entry door that opened up onto a deck.

Bernatsky was pronounced dead at the scene. Her body was taken to Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s Office for an autopsy. There she was positively identified by a tattoo on her body that was known to be there by a family member.

The medical examiner’s provisional report determined the manner of death to be a homicide and the cause of death to be multiple gunshot wounds, including one to her head.

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