A 29-year-old man has been charged with fatally shooting a woman in a resort cabin near Nisswa, Minn., in what appears to be a case of him believing he was targeting his former girlfriend.
Cameron J. Moser, of Brainerd, was charged Monday in Crow Wing County District Court with second-degree intentional murder in connection with the gunfire late Thursday night at the Cozy Bay Resort on Lake Edward that killed 46-year-old Bethany Bernatsky.
Moser remains jailed in lieu of $1 million bail ahead of an Oct. 20 court appearance. A message was left Tuesday with his attorney seeking a response to the allegations.
Sheriff Scott Goddard said Tuesday that “one of the scenarios that we are working on” is that Moser actually intended to shoot the 26-year-old daughter of the resort’s former owners, a possibility that the families of both women say is true. The sheriff did not disclose why Moser possibly wanted to harm the woman.
Bret Jevning said Tuesday that the week before the shooting Moser came to the RV park he owns across from the resort looking for his daughter.
Moser didn’t like that she had overcome her drug abuse through counseling, and “he was taunting her by using [drugs] himself,” Jevning said. “He was angry because we weren’t giving him access to my daughter.”
On the night of the shooting, Moser was “mistaking [Bernatsky] for my daughter,” Jevning said.
Bernatsky’s brother, Ben Bernatsky, said Moser “killed the wrong person.”
Ben Bernatsky said his sister and Moser’s ex-girlfriend “look similar. They have the same body structure, height, and hair color.”
Sara Luberts, who along with her husband took over the resort in June, said Bethany Bernatsky moved in a couple of weeks ago.
Bethany Bernatsky grew up in the Brainerd lakes area and was an “upper level” dressage horse trainer and teacher until about 10 years ago, her brother said. “She was a savant in the horse world,” he said.
Her horse training took her to Southern California, where she performed at Medieval Times dinner theater and worked out of Liston Training Stables, which praised her in a notice announcing her move to Vermont. “Bethany has a very gentle, almost ethereal approach to training,” the farewell notice read.
Bethany Bernatsky recently left Vermont, where she was running a paving company with her boyfriend, and “was going to stay the winter in the Brainerd area,” Ben Bernatsky said.
According to the criminal complaint: A cabin occupant contacted the Sheriff’s Office shortly after 11 p.m. about gunfire coming from the cabin next door.
Responding law enforcement located Moser across the street near the RV park owned by Jevning.
Moser, carrying a rifle and handgun, moved back across the street just south of the cabins, agreed to drop his weapons, and was arrested shortly before 1 a.m.
After his apprehension, members of the county tactical response team checked on cabins where the shots originated. An investigator saw Bernatsky’s body on the floor at the end of a hallway. She was shot several times, including once in the head.
Shell casings “the same caliber and brand of ammunition in Moser’s rifle” were recovered from the cabin, the complaint said.
Startribune‘s Paul Walsh contributed to this report