NDSU student’s death ruled homicidal violence
MOORHEAD - There are still many questions in the death of Thomas Gregory Bearson, but police got one answer on Thursday. Someone killed him. Who that someone is remains a mystery, said Lt. Tory Jacobson of the Moorhead Police Department. "At this...
MOORHEAD – There are still many questions in the death of Thomas Gregory Bearson, but police got one answer on Thursday.
Someone killed him.
Who that someone is remains a mystery, said Lt. Tory Jacobson of the Moorhead Police Department.
“At this time, we have no suspect information,” he said. “We do not know who’s responsible for this young man’s death.”
Jacobson said investigators received word from the Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s Office that Bearson, a North Dakota State University student, died as a result of “homicidal violence.”
While it’s clear the death was a homicide, Jacobson declined to specify the type of violence that killed Bearson, saying he didn’t want to jeopardize the investigation.
Also unanswered was the central question of why Bearson, a freshman nursing student who had only been on the NDSU campus for a few weeks, was killed.
“I have no motive information,” Jacobson said. “It’s an open, ongoing investigation where we do not have the answers that we need.”
Police turned to the public Thursday, seeking help in finding Bearson’s left shoe – a white Nike Air Jordan, size 9½. The shoe was missing from Bearson’s body when he was found dead Tuesday on the lot of Larry’s RV Sales, near 29th Street and 24th Avenue South by Sam’s Club in south Moorhead. Jacobson said Bearson’s right shoe was found at the scene, but would not say whether he was wearing it.
Authorities are also looking for Bearson’s cellphone, a silver iPhone 5.
Bearson, 18, was last seen alive about 3:40 a.m. Saturday outside a house at 824 14th St. N. in Fargo about six blocks south of Reed Hall, where he lived on campus. Later that day, he was reported missing after he missed a ride to his hometown of Sartell, Minn., where he was a standout high school basketball player.
An extensive search eventually led police to a largely industrial area of Moorhead, just north of Interstate 94, where a Fargo officer found Bearson’s body on the RV lot. How he ended up there, more than a 5-mile walk or drive from where he was last seen, is part of what police are investigating, Jacobson said.
“We’ve certainly had a great level of cooperation from his friends and associates,” he said. “Our investigators continue to interview and speak with anyone that may be familiar with him or maybe have seen somebody fitting his description.”
Police have not yet received autopsy or toxicology reports. Jacobson said those can take time, but declined to estimate when those would be complete.
Bearson’s parents, in a statement released through Moorhead police, asked news outlets for privacy until their family has a chance to grieve and hold a funeral for their son.
Two people at the house where Bearson was last seen declined to comment for this story.
It’s the first homicide case in Moorhead in 2014. The city’s most recent homicide was the June 2013 killing of 87-year-old Hank Volochenko, which is still unsolved.
The most recent homicide in Fargo was in June, when 24-year-old Randall Doehner was shot in the back, allegedly by his cousin and roommate. It was the second homicide in Fargo this year.
News of Bearson’s death prompted mourners in Fargo and Sartell to hold vigils Tuesday evening. To find out their fellow student was killed was a shock on NDSU’s campus.
“That kind of is scary,” said Karlie Matejcek, a junior mechanical engineering major.
“I think Fargo’s really safe, and NDSU’s really safe,” she said, but “it does kind of raise my concerns.”
Jens Myklebust called the news “freaky,” but said he wasn’t worried about his safety because he doesn’t stay out late. “I’m generally back in my room by 7,” the sophomore electrical engineer said.
As they walked out of the Memorial Union together, Akshay Bhardwaj and Yasser Shaikh said Bearson’s death made them nervous but didn’t come as a surprise.
“I was expecting it to be foul play,” Shaikh said, “but it still is sad.”
Bhardwaj said the news “gives us a red alert.”
Police seek tips
Anyone with information regarding Thomas Bearson’s death is asked to call the Red River Regional Dispatch Center at 701-451-7660.