Vehicle in Video Sought in Bearson Case

BENJAMIN NORMAN | THE SPECTRUM Chief David Ebinger (left) addresses the media Monday on the Thomas Bearson case. Fargo Police Chief David Todd (center) and Moorhead Police Lt. Brad Penas (right) spoke as well.
Chief David Ebinger (left) addresses the media Monday on the Thomas Bearson case. Fargo Police Chief David Todd (center) and Moorhead Police Lt. Brad Penas (right) spoke as well.


The Moorhead Police said the car they asked the public to help identify Monday has been found.

Officials said in a release they have found no reason to believe the driver of the vehicle was associated with the on-going homicide case.

Thomas Bearson’s body was found Sept. 23 near where the car of interest was recorded by surveillance cameras.

The car’s driver was not identified.


Police asked the public Monday to help identify a car of interest in the Thomas Bearson case.

Moorhead Police Lt. Brad Penas said surveillance video showed a dark-colored, four-door vehicle near the parking lot where Bearson’s body was discovered.

The North Dakota State student was last seen alive reportedly 3:40 a.m. Sept. 20 near the NDSU campus.

The video shows the car 16 hours later, Penas said. It enters the parking lot of an unoccupied business just northeast of Larry’s RV.

Bearson’s body was discovered in the RV parking lot Sept. 23.

While plates could not be read from the footage, the car did have a distinguishable brake light in the rear window.

Moorhead Police Chief David Ebinger said it is not known how, or if, the driver of the car is related to the case.

Wishing to “say more”

Monday’s press conference was the first time this year police officers officially addressed the homicide case.

Ebinger said the purpose of the press conference was to “recap” what has happened. Few details were disclosed, with Ebinger defining the officers’ words as “circumspect.”

Officials did, however, confirm Bearson’s toxicology report did not show drugs or alcohol, nor was his body mutilated, as some conspiracies suggested.

Penas added, “We have no information that Thomas Bearson was working as a confidential informant for any law enforcement agency.”

Besides that, officials at the press conference reiterated to media questions they could not compromise case-sensitive material. They did not disclose nearly any information regarding the recently released medical autopsy obtained by the Moorhead PD.

Moorhead Police Lt. Tory Jacobson said he wished “we could tell way more” to the public, but he said officers fear information released could hamper the investigation.

“The case is getting very extensive,” he said after the press conference, noting all parties involved are “waist-deep” in their case.

Investigating as a team

Jacobson said the investigation has not become a cold case, citing the recently received autopsy.

Other than F-M police, he said, other groups have been assisting.

“The FBI has been working with us ever since the beginning of this investigation,” Penas said.

Penas restated the case’s status:

When Bearson’s body was discovered, police said the cause of death was not visibly obvious. Jacobson said Bearson died from homicidal violence, but could not elaborate further on what that meant.

The white Nike Air Jordan left tennis shoe and cell phone sought  remain missing.

Driving emotional factors

With a no suspects or motives, the officers noted how hard this case been for all involved.

“The Bearson case is a difficult case, in which all agencies involved have expended a vast amount of time and resources,” Todd said, adding the strain impacts the officers’ jobs and lives.

Todd said working with families of the victims affects everyone. He said officers help with the “roller-coaster of emotions” families and officers themselves feel.

Penas said Bearson’s family has not seen the final autopsy report. He said he thinks they have an understanding to what happened to their son, but not a specific cause.

The unsolved questions “drives” officers, Todd said, noting the high importance of bringing the killers to justice.

“(We’re) keeping this case on the front burner of the stove,” Todd said.

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