A Random Act of Violence – A Crime of Opportunity – Was Anne a victim?

Anne Dunlap went missing and was murdered on December 30, 1995. Her body was found a couple days later in her car’s trunk in a Kmart parking lot on Lake Street in Minneapolis.

Was Anne Dunlap’s murder a random act of violence? That is Anne’s parent’s theory. An act of violence is often completely random. I learned at a young age to be aware of my surroundings and pay attention. Don’t walk alone at night. Travel in pairs. Put your keys between your fingers. Check your backseat before getting in your car at night. I have carried pepper spray since long before the turn of the century. According to Anne’s friends, she was also careful about her safety. The phrase, ‘random act of violence’ seems somewhat broad. It means an unprovoked attack that is usually committed by someone unknown to the victim. That definition would cover just about any crime one person can commit upon another; Robbery, carjacking, murder, rape, home invasion, and assault. Why not just call it an act of violence. I guess the “random” part refers to the lack of relationship between the victim and perpetrator. Such crimes are the hardest cases to solve because there aren’t any ties to each other. One and done.

Was Anne Dunlap’s murder a crime of opportunity? I listen to many true crime podcasts and often a woman’s unsolved murder or disappearance is referred to as possibly a crime of opportunity. For example; What happened to Maura Murray (missing since 2004)? The podcast hosts will ponder the possibilities… Was it her current boyfriend? Her ex-boyfriend? Her professor? A serial killer that just happened to be on that same road at the same time? Or…was it a crime of opportunity? I have heard this description often lately and I find it extremely disturbing. Defined as, “a crime committed without planning when the perpetrator sees that he/she has the chance to commit the act at that moment and seizes it. Such acts have little or no premeditation.” As in, with the right set of circumstances, a regular guy may commit an egregious, heinous act. That thought is terrifying. Of course, the term is not quite that literal. It is being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Opportunity is not the cause of the crime, but merely determines the time and place of it.

Was Anne a victim of either a random act of violence or a crime of opportunity? Someone knows… If you have any information regarding the murder of Anne Dunlap, please contact Crime Stoppers of Minnesota. Phone – Call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477)


13 thoughts on “A Random Act of Violence – A Crime of Opportunity – Was Anne a victim?”

    1. Thanks, Mn Man! Unfortunately, my work computer will not allow me to open the link. I will check it out later though. I’m wondering if this is the case in which the woman had her cell phone and was calling for help from the trunk?

    2. Mn Man, I read the article last night. This is a very recent murder in New York, I see. It’s very sad that such good people meet such horrific fates. What reminded you of the Anne Dunlap case, other than the discovery in the trunk? Were there other details that link the two cases?

  1. Hello Tricia , I don’t know why, but I feel inclined to write to you. The picture of Anne on the KSTP news site, I took. It was the day of her death…we were at a Christmas brunch together. The friends that found her car in the Kmart parking lot, that was my husband and I. I have spent time with Brad and Anne as a couple. We loved him….my girlfriends all wanted to clone him and date him! We have lived with this unsolved crime for 22 years….and periodically it comes up in the news again and brings back all the pain. I don’t know how someone can get away with murder. I also don’t know how a new clue can lead to something after so much time has passed. I hope that a miracle happens and you can uncover something that will help the police solve this heinous crime.

    1. Karen,
      Thank you for writing to me. I am so sorry for the loss of your friend! I never knew Anne, but the memory of her death, what she had to contribute, and the life she never got to live has weighed on my heart and mind for 22 years. I imagine your feelings are infinitely stronger than mine and I’m sorry for the hurt you’ve felt for so long. It isn’t fair that someone took her life and just went on with their own life like it was nothing.

      If her death was indeed a random act of violence, people know. The perpetrator would have told a friend, a girlfriend, …someone in 22 years. I hope to compel someone to come forward and do the right thing.

      If I may ask a couple of questions;
      *What made you and your husband check the Kmart parking lot that day?
      *At brunch, did Anne mention her plans for the rest of that day?
      *Did Anne mention anything that seemed perhaps innocuous at the time, but has lingered in the back of your mind?

      Investigators say that the thought that comes to your mind, but you push back and talk yourself out of, is often a link to investigate. Intuition is real. The book, ‘The Gift of Fear,’ explains the problem we have trusting our intuition. “It is, ‘judgment’ that gets in the way of our perception and intuition. With, ‘judgment’ comes; the ability to disregard our intuition unless we can explain it logically, and the eagerness to judge and convict our feelings rather than honor them” (DeBecker, 1997).

  2. First of all thank you so much for this blog. I have always been fascinated with this case from the beginning. But not cuz I knew Anne or anyone associated w/her. I am 52, had a coworker who looked like she could have been her old sister or cousin, plus another coworker whose husband worked at that same Kmart but, not around the time the murder happened. But back in the day the only time ya got updated was if you happened to catch the news or saw the article in the paper.
    I have to admit I have also become a ” Cold Case junkie” since 2010, when the Wetterlings neighbors farm was dug up. I followed Joy and websleuths on Jacob. Then find Jodi. (I was born in IA ,not far from Mason City.) Been in MN Since I was 3. Sorry enough about me. So I was elated when I found your blog!!!!! :o)
    I have a few hypothetical scenarios if Brad didn’t do it.
    Excuse me a second. Brad if you are innocent, get off your freaking butt and go talk to the cops, and bring your lawyer with you and tell them everything about that day. No more pleading the 5th.
    And whoever did this, God knows, and you will be found out some day. Thats a fact!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I truly believe that as long as this blog keeps going, this case is in the light. And I pray the person who is responsible for this henice act can no longer sleep at night. Turn yourself in so this precious family can have some closer.
    O.K. back to the drawing board
    1. disgruntled coworker who got picked over for the job that Anne got. Did the cops interview everyone at General Mills? I am assuming they did.
    2. Gang initiation thing- It seems they are always happening and so senseless. And from what I understand gang activity was high that year. Right??
    3. Of course robbery gone wrong. Her rock must have been huge. $10,000 really?! Also her purse, must have been nice too. Plus if she DID end up with those shoes… I seem to recall one of the first incidents at the MOA was over a pair of shoes. Weren’t they Air Jordans or something like that?? hmm…and the latest a stabbing, not far from the entrance to one of the main stores.
    4. Could she have witnessed something in the mall parking ramp? wrong place. wrong time. :o(
    Forgive me if any of these have been dealt with. Also I don’t want to lead anyone down any rabbit trails

  3. Thank you, Cold Case Junkie! I appreciate you stopping by!

    You have some interesting scenarios. Here’s what I know/think…
    1. Disgruntled employee… I am assuming the police interviewed Anne’s coworkers at the time. However, if her attacker was a coworker, seems tough they would know she was going shopping alone to ambush her, think to make it look like a robbery gone wrong, and then move her car to Kmart… all just doesn’t fit. If it were a coworker, I would guess she would have been attacked around work, coming or going.
    2. Gang initiation… It is possible. 1995 was a record year for homicides and there was gang activity. But where was Anne when she was accosted? Whoever killed Anne tried to cover it up. A gang initiation would not be covered up…would not take care to move her body to a secondary crime scene….
    Whatever they know, Minneapolis and Bloomington police seem pretty confident that Anne was never in Bloomington. I think there are still many details that have not been shared with the public.
    3. Robbery gone wrong… It is possible. Again, I would ask, where was Anne when this happened? Where is the crime scene? Aside from the blood in the trunk, it could not all have been contained there. Where is the blood spatter? Not in the Kmart parking lot. Not at the Mall of America. Why didn’t she have defensive wounds? If she were knocked unconscious and robbed, why kill her as well? Although robbery is possible, Anne was not a flashy person that would draw attention to would-be thieves. She wasn’t dressed up. She was wearing jeans, a plum-colored sweater, and a brown bomber jacket. It was December 30, 1995 so she was likely wearing gloves (a ring would not be seen/obvious). That car…a 1987 Toyota Celica also would not draw attention. Lastly, the ring never showed up in area pawn shops and her credit cards were never used.
    As for her shoes, there was no record that she bought any shoes that day. Also, reports say she needed orthopedic shoes. No Air-Jordan-type hot commodity there. 😉
    4. Witness to a MOA crime… Maybe she was a witness to a crime somewhere, but again I’m doubting it had anything to do with the Mall of America. Whatever the police know, they know she was not there.
    In the wrong place at the wrong time is certainly a possibility, but people talk. It is human nature. After 22+ years, how is it that no one has talked?
    Still hoping someone comes forward with information.

  4. On true crime wiki, it mentions that Brad hired a detective. And he talked to two witnesses that saw her at MOA. The source was the St Paul pioneer press. The article was dated Jan 12, 1996. I am not sure if there is an archive or not online . But I was at the library not too long ago looking up something else. They still had microfiche (spell??) from 1983.
    Did the cops ever interview this detective? I am assuming they did. If not. He needs to be interviewed. And those two witnesses too.
    Now was Anne a regular at Nordstroms enough that some knew her there. And would recognize her?? You had mentioned I think that she had a “helper ” (I can’t think of the correct term at the moment) at Nordstroms. Maybe that helper was one of the witnesses?? hmm… Don’t know. Only guessing.

    1. Cold case junkie,
      Yes, Brad’s detective found 2 people who claim to have seen Anne at the MOA. Not sure about the d of that, especially since she was not on any security camera footage, nor her car. Bloomington police are confident that Anne was never at the MOA.
      Yes, one story claimed she had a “personal shopper.” However, police don’t have any witnesses that saw her at MOA/Nordstroms.

  5. I am distressed that there hasn’t been a post here in four months. Why is the author not exploring all the various aspects of this case that someone could explore?

    The author said months ago she was trying to get the transcripts of the 911 calls. Where are they? What about the transcript of the interview of Bradley Dunlap?

    Has the author had any contact with the police investigating this case at all? Can they be persuaded to release any information about the case? Have they ever said what kind of knife it was? Stiletto? Jack-knife? Machete? Hunting knife? Fish filleting knife? Swiss Army knife? Can we please learn this one fact?

    1. Thanks for stopping by!

      Sorry, “Call Me Frustrated” the only thing the police will reply with is they cannot tell me anything. According to the Minneapolis police, the Anne Dunlap’s is still an active investigation. I too thought after so long, they would release something, anything. They are very tight-lipped. The murder weapon was never found and the death certificate doesn’t go into details of the type of sharp instrument. The manner of death is homicide. The cause of death is insanguination.

      The transcript of Brad’s interview is not a public record since it is still an open case.

      What we can hope for is to… spread the word, don’t let her be forgotten, and hope someone comes forward to police with information. Any information!

      I have many drafts posts. I will get an update out soon.

Talk to me.