Search warrants in death of St. Paul bicyclist focus on suspect’s missing Hyundai

St. Paul police have filed more than 15 applications for search warrants in their investigation into the fatal hit-and-run of a Brasa Rotisserie employee who was biking home from work in November.
All of them focus on Abbey Hegner and her son, Dustin Hegner-Royce. Neither have been charged, but they were arrested and released in the weeks after Jose Hernandez Solano was found lying motionless on the street at Grand Avenue and West Seventh Street after being struck just after midnight Nov. 26.

Solano suffered severe head and spinal injuries and died at Regions Hospital about two weeks later.

Hegner declined to comment when reached by a reporter Thursday. Hegner-Royce could not be reached.
The latest search warrants appear to be aimed at trying to determine whether Hegner is lying about the whereabouts of her Hyundai Santa Fe. She told police she sold the vehicle to an “unknown Mexican or Somali male” whom she had been unable to understand for $3,000 four days before the deadly crash, court documents say.
Hegner also reportedly admitted to officers that she still had a $5,000 lien on the SUV at the time of the sale that she’s continuing to make payments on.
A search warrant application filed Dec. 21 sought Hegner’s banking records in hopes that the bank’s surveillance system might show what vehicle Hegner used to make transactions at a Nicollet Mall bank branch on Nov. 23 and 24.
“(Police) believe that video … may show Abbey Hegner’s claims to be false,” the legal document said.
Another search warrant sought access to Hegner-Royce’s bank records to prove that neither he nor his mom made deposits for $3,000 after the alleged sale of the Hyundai Santa Fe.
Dustin Joel Hegner-Royce, left, and Abbey Rose Hegner
Dustin Joel Hegner-Royce, left, and Abbey Rose Hegner


Police began to suspect the vehicle’s involvement in the collision after an anonymous person contacted authorities and said that a SUV matching the description of the suspect vehicle had been scene at Keenan’s Bar, about a half mile from the crash scene.
They ran the vehicle through the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension’s website and determined that Hegner was the registered owner.
A patron at Keenan’s Bar on the night of the crash told the bar manager that he witnessed Hegner-Royce drive up to the establishment at 12:14 a.m. — four minutes after the crash — while his mother, who was working at the time, was outside smoking a cigarette, according to details in a search warrant application.
Another patron who was outside smoking with Hegner told officers that Hegner-Royce ran up and said “Mom, I need your help,” before the two took off toward Coopers Food, court documents say.
About 10 minutes later, Hegner reportedly told her boss she needed to leave because her son’s girlfriend was suicidal. She would later tell police a different reason for her abrupt exit when she was arrested Dec. 15.
Jose Hernandez Solano, 52, shown at Brasa in St. Paul where he worked for over a year. (Courtesy of Brasa)
Courtesy of Brasa
Jose Hernandez Solano, 52, shown at Brasa in St. Paul where he worked for over a year.
Hegner-Royce was arrested the following day. He told officers he didn’t remember picking up his mother from work that night and also had no memory of being at a Holiday gas station near the crash site, according to a search warrant application.
Video footage captured at the gas station reportedly shows the suspect vehicle along with a driver matching Hegner-Royce’s description at the Holiday four minutes before the crash, legal documents say.
Hegner and Hegner-Royce were released from custody days after their arrest without charges.
Search warrants also mention another man possibly connected to the case with whom Hegner was arrested in December on a matter unrelated to the hit-and-run.
A review of their phones at the time led a St. Croix County sheriff’s deputy to determine that the man was in romantic relationship with someone listed under his contacts as “Sergeant Hegner.” He also surmised that someone he communicated with on Facebook identified as “Sarge” was likely “Sergeant Hegner.”
Messages exchanged between the two “indicated something about someone still being alive, as well as a mention of a news report that might upset “Sarge,” according to the search warrant application.
There also was a discussion about “Sarge” looking for a new car, legal documents say.
In email messages he sent to another woman Dec. 1, the man reportedly makes mention of doing “something bad the other day,” that he needed to find someone to confide in about, the search warrant application said.
When asked if another suspect has been named in the case, St. Paul Police spokesman Steve Linders said,  “The case remains open and active. We have no further information to share at this time.”
The search warrants filed sought access to several cell phones, at least two residences, as well as banking, Facebook and email records.
Hegner no longer works at Keenan’s Bar, according to bar staff.

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