Bearson Investigation Still ‘Active, Open’

FILE PHOTO | THE SPECTRUM The investigation into Tom Bearson's murder has brought together Fargo and Moorhead police, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and FBI behavioral analysts.
The investigation into Tom Bearson’s murder has brought together Fargo and Moorhead police, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and FBI behavioral analysts.

Moorhead Police say the investigation into Tom Bearson’s murder is “very much an active, open investigation,” despite a year and a half since the freshman was killed.

Bearson went missing Sept. 20, 2014 on the 800 block of 14th Street North in Fargo before he was found dead three days later in the Larry’s RV lot in Moorhead after a community-wide search for the Sartell, Minn., native. He was 18.

The Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled his cause of death as “homicidal violence.”

In the 18 months since his death, investigators still have no person of interest nor have they released details surrounding Bearson’s cause of death.

“We haven’t identified a person of interest,” Moorhead Police Lt. Tory Jacobson said. “We certainly do not know who committed this crime or what the motive was at this point.”

Case details

Bearson’s cause of death is one detail in the case that police have decided to hold back since the start.

“We’re very calculated and deliberate with the information we provide,” Jacobson said, adding investigators are “using this as a very importance piece of the investigation so that ultimately our goal is to identify who is responsible.”

Multiple agencies have had hands in the investigation, including Fargo and Moorhead police, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and the FBI.

Last summer, investigators from all of those agencies met in West Virginia to “look at the whole crime and give another perspective,” Jacobson said.

Moorhead’s leading investigating officer also left his position for a patrol sergeant position in the last half-year, Jacobson added, with a new lead investigator brought in.

“We didn’t lose him, but he’s no longer assigned as the lead investigator,” Jacobson said. “He in fact has a lot of information about this very large case and assists, but we have a new investigator is bringing a new perspective and new eyes to the entire case.”

The case’s information, from interviews to medical reports to re-interviews, are all under the microscope, Jacobson said, adding Moorhead Police’s whole investigations divisions “has had parts” in the Bearson case.

“With a complex case like this, there are so many parts and so many unanswered questions that the technique that we have to deploy is to try to gather anything and everything that we can,” he said. “When you do that, that gets to be a lot of analysis and comparisons to look for things that are foul or suspicious or out of place.”

Not a cold case

Despite the amount of time that has passed since Bearson’s death, the case is far from cold, Jacobson said.

“It’s a case we’re gonna continue to seek answers that identify who’s responsible for this,” he said.

A cold case, he added, is one that has exhausted information either provided in evidence or created in theories by investigators.

“It’s come to the point you’re looking for something new to pursue,” Jacobson said. “Due to the huge size of this case, we have not hit that point yet.”

Police keep in regular contact with the Bearson family. Greg Bearson, Tom’s father, visited Moorhead two weeks ago.

“I think he finds some peace with knowing that this hasn’t turned into a cold case and we really do care and ultimately, good police work is being done,” Jacobson said, “and it’s sad we haven’t been able to identify the responsible person at this time.”

While the active investigation continues into Bearson’s murder, Jacobson said campus and community members can remember the case is still a priority to police while safety is for everyone.

“We live in a great community … and we’re generally quite safe in this community but when we talk about public … and personal safety, it’s something we all need to be very conscious about,” he said. ” … Anything you can do always for your own personal safety is something very good.”

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