People connected to Bearson case have refused lie detector tests, girlfriend says on Facebook
FARGO--The girlfriend of Thomas Bearson, a North Dakota State University student whose killing last fall remains unsolved, said Tuesday on Facebook that some people connected to the case, including one from Bearson's hometown who was one of the l...
FARGO--The girlfriend of Thomas Bearson, a North Dakota State University student whose killing last fall remains unsolved, said Tuesday on Facebook that some people connected to the case, including one from Bearson's hometown who was one of the last to see him alive, have declined police requests that they take lie detector tests.
"Why? Just take the test and prove you had nothing to do with Tom's death and prove yourself innocent of any wrongdoing and then move on with your life," Erica Traut wrote in her post. "But, do the right thing and take the test."
The post had more than 200 likes and 120 shares at 6 p.m. Tuesday.
In the comments, a discussion ensued about Jake Wenzel, who went to high school with Bearson in Sartell, Minn., and was with him the last night he was seen alive. The two were out together early in the morning on Sept. 20 when Wenzel composed a cryptic tweet from Bearson's Twitter account, and they ended up at Wenzel's house before Bearson left at 3:40 a.m.
"It is fact that the last individuals known to have seen Tom Bearson alive are unwilling to cooperate with law enforcement and unwilling to take a polygraph test," Traut wrote of Wenzel, who she referred to as "one who is from our own community."
Wenzel's girlfriend, Corbin Heimsness, commented, "I know my boyfriend wouldn't KILL is (sic) own friend!!! Your truly sick! Erica I'm very disappointed in this. Jake supported you and made sure you were doing okay plenty of times and this is how you repay him? Shame."
In another comment, Heimsness said the reason Wenzel would not take the test was because the test was not accurate. Later, all of her comments were deleted.
Lt. Tory Jacobson, a spokesman for the Moorhead Police Department, said investigators knew about Traut's post, but he would not confirm its content or whether polygraph tests have been used in this case.
"We're unable to comment on the ongoing investigation," Jacobson said. "So we cannot speak to, you know, what people are posting or what our efforts are in the investigation."
Fargo police Lt. Joel Vettel would not comment on the Bearson case, but said Fargo uses polygraph testing "regularly over the course of a year," especially in serious or complicated cases.
"It's used maybe to help eliminate individuals from being suspects," said Vettel, who manages Fargo's investigations division. "It allows us to follow up on leads and assists us in gauging the credibility of that."
Because Fargo police rely on a contract employee to operate the polygraph, tests typically occur later in an investigation, Vettel said.
Bruce Quick, a defense attorney at Vogel Law Firm and former prosecutor for the Cass County State's Attorney's Office, said the test is "a lot of times used as an interrogation tool more than a tool to determine whether someone's being truthful."
Quick used polygraph tests "semi-regularly" as a prosecutor and said there were circumstances when he believed the results, but he noted the science is questionable.
"A person is not required to take them, and they're not admissible (in court), and there's just a lot of fear that they're not accurate," Quick said. "I wouldn't interpret somebody's refusal to take one as meaning much because there'd be a lot of reasons why a person wouldn't want to do that, other than they have something to hide."