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March 2008: 25 years on, authorities are still trying to determine who killed 'Scriver' Olson

WILLMAR -- Twenty-five years have passed since 75-year-old Joseph "Scriver" Olson was found dead Feb. 18, 1983, in his rural Belgrade home. He had been beaten and then stabbed with a knife found with his body.

Even though decades have passed, Kandiyohi County Sheriff Dan Hartog believes the Olson murder case is solvable.

"If we get the right information that ties into the physical evidence left at the scene ... sure, it is solvable," Hartog said.

In the last five years, sheriff's office detectives have followed up on 25 leads -- the last piece of information a letter received last July. That letter contained information that was investigated, but didn't lead to anything, Hartog said.

From time to time, investigators will bring in people involved in the case and interview them. However, at this time, there are no suspects, he added.

According to Tribune archives, Olson was known throughout Kandiyohi County, as he sold seed for a living. Authorities suspected he had been dead for about three days and also speculated that burglary was involved in his death.

Almost six years have passed since the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension announced a reward of up to $50,000 for information that solved the Kandiyohi County case. That reward is still available, Hartog said.

At the time, the publicity of the reward, which was announced in June 2002, generated a few more leads, the sheriff said. Local law enforcement is working the BCA on the case and information is shared between the agencies. There is DNA evidence that has been entered into the BCA's database.

"What we do have has been brought to the BCA," he said. "However, there is nothing to compare it to."

The Olson case is one of 24 cases featured on the BCA's Spotlight on Crime Web site at Several of the high-profile cases have since been solved, and another has charges filed. A South Dakota man has recently been charged with the murder of Carrie Christine Nelson in May 2001 at Blue Mound State Park.

The Olson case is not the only unsolved murder in the county. In January 1974, Mae A. Herman, 73, of Willmar, was found stabbed to death in her Willmar home.

Another case, involving the disappearance of Daniel Lee Newville in August 2002, remains as a high-profile case in the county. However, there is nothing new to report on Newville, Hartog said.

Hartog urges people with any information to come forward and share it with authorities, who will follow up on any information.

"We are always looking for anyone with any type of information," he said. "That information matters. ... It could be the key that connects other information."

Contact the Kandiyohi County Sheriff's Office at 320-235-1260 or the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, cold case homicide unit at 1-888-234-3692.

Gretchen Schlosser

Gretchen Schlosser is the public safety reporter, and writes about agriculture occasionally, for the West Central Tribune. She's been with the Tribune since 2006 and has 17 years of experience working in news, media and communications. 

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