Minnesota Man Fatally Shot Woman He was Having an Extra-Marital Affair with, Staged Scene to Make it Look Like Suicide

Philip Ecker and Alexandra L. Pennig
Philip Ecker and Alexandra L. Pennig Facebook

A 45-year-old man in Minnesota will spend decades behind bars for killing his girlfriend, shooting her in the head, then staging the scene to make it look like the 32-year-old woman killed herself.

Ramsey County District Court Judge DeAnne Hilgers on Wednesday, April 3, ordered Matthew Phillip Ecker to serve 30 years in a state correctional facility for the 2022 slaying of Alexandra L. Pennig, according to court records obtained by Law & Crime. He was previously convicted by a jury on one count of second-degree murder.

Ecker was Having an Extra-Marital Affair with Pennig, Told Cops She Shot Herself

Ecker, a former emergency room nurse practitioner, was married at the time and had four children with his wife. He claimed Pennig knew about his family and did not care, but his wife was not aware of the relationship and has since divorced him, the Pioneer Press reported.

According to the criminal complaint, officers with the St. Paul Police Department at about 2:50 a.m. on Dec. 16, 2022, responded to a 911 call at an apartment complex. The caller identified himself as Ecker and explained that his girlfriend had shot herself in the head about four minutes prior to the call.

Upon arriving at the scene, investigators found Pennig lying on her back in the bathroom with a gunshot wound to the left side of her head.

Evidence Wasn't Consistent with Ecker's Claims

"A firearm lay on (Pennig's) chest and her left hand was on top of the gun," the complaint states. "Officers recovered the gun and noted (Pennig) had little or no grip on it. The handgun did not have any blood on its sides and possibly had blood on the tip of the muzzle — otherwise, it was remarkably clean. (Pennig) did not have any obvious signs of blood on her left hand."

Pennig's legs were straddling the door, police said, indicating that it was likely open at the time she was shot. Police noted that the blood in the bathroom had already "dried and coagulated" by the time they arrived, despite Ecker saying that she'd shot herself just minutes earlier. It was also noted that the bathroom door had a split in the wood near the lock, as if someone had broken through the closed door.

Ecker Told Cops He and Pennig Got into a Fight Before the Alleged 'Suicide'

Ecker said he'd been in an open relationship with Pennig for about two years and claimed she had called him on Dec. 15 and asked him to come over because she was "being abused by her other boyfriend." He claimed they went out together on the evening of Dec. 15 and Ecker and the other boyfriend got into a fight and the other man punched Ecker in the face.

Ecker said he and Pennig argued when they got home and he went for a walk to cool down, but things escalated when he got back. He said Pennig "suddenly" grabbed the gun from his backpack and locked herself inside the bathroom and then he heard a gunshot. Ecker couldn't remember if the bathroom was locked, but he said he had to "push the door open" to get in.

"He said (Pennig) was lying in a pool of blood, and he saw she had shot herself in the head," the complaint states. "Ecker said AP was still breathing when he got the door open, and he tried to help her using his medical skills — he put pressure on her head and performed CPR. Ecker said he did not have blood on his hands because he washed them in the bathroom sink before he called 911. Officers did not note any blood on Ecker's clothing."

Police said he changed his story several times regarding the details about what happened leading up to and immediately after the shooting. Ecker eventually admitted that after the shooting, he put the gun back in his bag, saying he was scared because "it was his gun," but said he later put it back on Pennig's chest. The complaint ends with police noting that Pennig's family "confirmed that (she) was right-handed."