BLOOMINGTON – An 82-year-old Minnesotan wrestling legend is under investigation after the death of his 97-year-old roommate.
Police believe that Verne Gagne may have contributed to the January death of Helmut R. Gutmann, who lived with him in the Bloomington living facility, Friendship Village. Gagne and 97-year-old Gutmann, who both suffer from Alzheimer’s-related dementia, allegedly got into a fight on Jan. 26 that led to Gutmann’s death.
Gutmann suffered a broken leg and a head injury in the fight. He was hospitalized, then released, but then was re-hospitalized due to complications. Four days ago, Gutmann died.
Bloomington Police are investigating the death as suspicious, after being contacted by an elderly rights group.
A manner of death has not officially been determined.
It’s unknown if Gagne would ever be charged because of his mental state. He has been dismissed from the living facility.
Gutmann was a former cancer research scientist at the University of Minnesota, who escaped Nazi Germany.
Verne Gagne’s history
Verne Gagne first entered the world of wrestling in 1949. Before long, he became the perennial champion and owner/promoter of the American Wrestling Association. He was a host of the weekly TV show, All-Star Wrestling, the highest-rated show on local prime-time television for nearly 40 years.
Over the years, Gagne influenced the careers of Vachon, the Crusher, Andre the Giant, Hulk Hogan, and Jesse Ventura.
He was inducted into the World Pro Wrestling Hall of Hame in 1999. Gagne’s signature wrestling move was a sleeper hold.