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North Dakota Cold Cases

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North Dakota Murders

The Federal Bureau of Investigation as well as both local and state law enforcement agencies maintain annual reports which explain the crimes that have occurred each year per jurisdiction, specifically the number of murders in North Dakota by year. In addition to law enforcement and investigation agencies, Project: Cold Case, in partnership with the Murder Accountability Project, has put together a comprehensive list of the unsolved homicide statistics per state on their website. According to this website, between 1980 and 2019 there were only 508 murders in North Dakota. Since then, around 424 of those homicides have been solved, leaving the state with only 84 unsolved murders. According to Project: Cold Case, North Dakota has the least unsolved homicides remaining from 1980-2019 out of any U.S. state, with Wyoming not too far behind, with only 137 unsolved murders.

Due to the fact that there aren’t many unsolved murders in North Dakota, there aren’t many murders in any specific part of the state. The 1981 murder of Clifton Wendell Marsh, the 1994 murder of Ronald Johnson, the 2007 murder of Anita Knutson, and the 1985 suspicious death of Olivia Lone Bear are a few examples of the murders in northern North Dakota which remain unsolved today. Additionally, the 1963 murder of Larry Phebus, the 1972 murder of Lora Jean Dugan, the 1974 murder of Daniel Erick Johnson, the 1991 murder of Joseph Anderson, and the 2002 murder of Russell Douglas Turcotte are a few examples of unsolved murders in central North Dakota.

As for those in a more populated portion of the state, cases included within the category of murders in Bismarck, North Dakota, as well as murders in Burleigh County, North Dakota, which remain unsolved include the 1994 disappearance of Michelle Julson, the 2011 disappearance of Christopher Mann, and the 1996 disappearance of Sandra Jacobson and her son John Jacobson, among few others.

Unsolved North Dakota Murders

Based on data which has been published on Project: Cold Case’s unsolved homicide statistics page, there are only 84 North Dakota cold cases which remain unsolved today. In addition to their statistics webpage, Project: Cold Case has also put together a growing database with nearly 25,000 cold cases from across the United States.

A handful of the few northern North Dakota unsolved murders which you may be able to find within law enforcement websites and additional databases include the 1981 murder of Clifton Wendell Marsh, the 1994 murder of Ronald Johnson, the 2007 murder of Anita Knutson, and the 1985 suspicious death of Olivia Lone Bear. The 1994 disappearance of Michelle Julson, the 2011 disappearance of Christopher Mann, and the 1996 disappearance of Sandra Jacobson and her son John Jacobson can also be found included within various lists, representing a few of the unsolved murders Bismarck, North Dakota, even though they are not murders. Additional unsolved murders North Dakota which may be found within the various lists of cold cases, including Project: Cold Case’s database, are a few east North Dakota unsolved murders. These include the 1987 murder of Anna Korynta, the 1996 murder of James Blilie, and the 2002 murder of Russell Douglas Turcotte, among a few disappearances.

Joseph Smedley
Joseph SmedleySuspicious Death, 2015
Asha Degree
Asha DegreeMissing, 2000

Consider this

More than 200,000 unsolved cases have gone cold since 1980, and murder clearance rates continue to drop. With equity for BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and other underserved victims not prioritized in the true crime community—together we can do better.

Famous North Dakota Murders

Due to the fact that there haven’t been a significant number of murders in North Dakota which are unsolved to this day, there aren’t many unsolved North Dakota murders, however there are plenty that have been solved with information available online for you to look into if you wish. A handful of North Dakota law enforcement agency websites, including the website of the North Dakota Attorney General, include a short list of North Dakota murders that remain unsolved or labeled as cold cases. Additionally, you may be able to find a few short lists of notorious North Dakota criminals around the internet, if you would like to learn more about them. A few well-known or infamous North Dakota murders that can be found within the lists of all murders in North Dakota include the following: the 2007 murder of Anita Knutson, the 2002 suspected murder of Russell Turcotte, and the 2017 suspicious death of Olivia Lone Bear.

Homicide Rate in North Dakota

The capital city of North Dakota, Bismarck, had a population of approximately 73,500 residents as of the 2019 census, making its crime rate and homicide rate lower than they may seem. Keeping the total population of the capital city in mind, the 2018 violent crime rate in Bismarck, North Dakota, was around 298.75 out of every 100,000 inhabitants. In addition, the Bismarck, North Dakota, murders rate the same year was about 2.68 per 100,000 inhabitants of the city. Going back to the city’s population mentioned earlier, since there are not at least 100,000 people living there, the crime rates are significantly less than they may seem.

Although there is currently no clear protocol for determining how many murders in Bismarck, North Dakota, 2021 or how many murders in North Dakota 2021, looking back at archived Uniform Crime Reports for both categories will show you that both the homicide number and the violent crime number have remained low and stable over recent years, with no sign of rising.

Burleigh County Murders

Even with a population of more than 96,000 inhabitants, based on Uniform Crime Reports that are put together and released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, there were not any homicides in Burleigh County, North Dakota, from 2015-2019, showing a flatlined homicide trend.

In the majority of Burleigh County killings, authorities are able to collect a sufficient amount of evidence to charge their suspected killer before finally sending them to Burleigh County murders trial. The most common sorts of evidence that are included at trial for Burleigh County homicide cases are overwhelmingly Burleigh County murders crime scene photos, along with DNA evidence, digital evidence, and trace evidence. Crime scene photos are shown during trial with the goal of showing the jury the surroundings of the scene as well as the locations of any relevant items of evidence.

Bismarck, North Dakota, Murders

Despite being the second-most populated city in the state, Bismarck, North Dakota, murders seem to be less common than those in other areas; however, there aren’t very many unsolved murders in the state of North Dakota compared to other states. Most of the murders that have occurred in North Dakota in the last 40 years have been solved, as shown on Project: Cold Case’s unsolved homicide statistics webpage, and authorities continue their investigations into the remaining cold cases. Occasionally, Bismarck murders discussion becomes a hot topic on social media platforms around the anniversary of cold cases or when a recent murder goes unsolved. These discussions can cover anything from speculation of evidence, the sharing of factual details of a case, the sharing of theories, and on occasion include conversations about Bismarck murders pictures. Subtopics of these conversations most commonly focus on speculation of Bismarck murders crime scene photos and even Bismarck, North Dakota, murders autopsy photos. Despite recent advancements in DNA technology, there is no easily accessible information online about any cold cases in which Bismarck murders DNA was used to solve any cold cases, as well as no easily found information about any cold cases in the entire state of North Dakota being solved with DNA.

North Dakota Serial Killers

Thankfully, although North Dakota has dealt with a fair number of North Dakota killers, the state has only been faced with one North Dakota serial killer. The most well-known serial killer in North Dakota is occasionally found on different types of serial killer list, but is almost always included on North Dakota serial killer lists. North Dakota’s only serial killer, automatically making him the most notorious of North Dakota serial killers who doesn’t appear very often on serial killer lists, but is always listed within list of serial killers in North Dakota, is Eugene Butler, who murdered 6 men from 1900-1906.

Crimes in North Dakota

If you would like to look further into the number of crimes in North Dakota, multiple law enforcement organizations have annual crime reports on their websites that detail the crimes in that area. Furthermore, the Federal Bureau of Investigation distributes a Uniform Crime Report every year which focuses on outlining the types the crimes committed along with their crime rates for most cities and counties within every state, along with a report on crime in North Dakota.

Luckily, it seems that the number of North Dakota homicide and true crime stories in North Dakota have been decreasing at a steady rate over time. As per Project: Cold Case, there were around 508 murders in North Dakota between 1980 and 2019. As time passed, about 424 of those homicides have been solved, leaving North Dakota with approximately 84 remaining unsolved homicides. Nonetheless, North Dakota’s various law enforcement agencies will continue to investigate the remaining unsolved homicides with every resource that is available to them, until every one of North Dakota’s true crimes has been solved.

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