Not every major crime in North Dakota gets solved by law enforcement, with some of the state's cold cases dating back over 50 years.

In cases of homicide and unsolved missing persons, the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation collaborates with law enforcement organizations throughout the state. The law enforcement agency refers these cases to the Cold Case Unit.

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Larry Phebus: Homicide

Larry Phebus, 14 years old, was discovered dead on March 27, 1963, 1.5 miles south of Alexander, North Dakota.  Phebus vanished, and it was thought that on October 20, 1962, or thereabouts, he was murdered. According to the results of the autopsy, Phebus asphyxiated to death.

Barbara Louise Cotton: Missing Person

In the late hours of April 11, 1981, Barbara Louise Cotton, then fifteen years old, vanished from Williston, North Dakota.


Talmadge Patton: Missing Person

The last known location of 75-year-old Talmadge Patton was Alexander, North Dakota, on August 15, 1995. Patton intended to visit Georgia. On the other hand, his home contained his packed suitcase, some personal belongings, and a map showing the route he intended to take. Patton's car, a brown Dodge pickup with a white topper and a 1/2-ton 2-wheel drive license plate 8755A from North Dakota, was reported missing.

Russell Douglas Turcotte: Homicide

Russell Turcotte, 20, of Wolf Point, Montana, was found dead in a tree row ½ mile north of US Highway #2 and ten miles west of Devils Lake, North Dakota, on November 5, 2002.  Turcotte was last seen on July 12, 2002, at Simonson's Gas in Grand Forks, North Dakota, where he was awaiting a money order to return to his home in Montana. The money order was never picked up by him.

Lora Jean Dugan: Homicide

The body of 14-year-old Lora Jean Dugan was discovered on April 30, 1972, in a mountainous and forested area about one mile south of Interstate 94, three miles southwest of Medora, North Dakota. Homicide struck Dugan sometime between April 7 and April 21, 1972. She was strangled to death.


Daniel Erick Johnson: Homicide

Daniel Erick Johnson's body was found on June 27, 1974, about 300 feet east of Highway 83 and seven miles north of the Minot Air Force Base, close to the Glenburn north entrance. Johnson had suffered three gunshot wounds.


Clifton Wendell Marsh: Homicide

The body of Clifton Wendell Marsh, 69, was found on October 1, 1981, in a rest area along Highway 2, about 7 miles east of Devils Lake, North Dakota. It was revealed by the investigation that Marsh had been shot. On September 29, 1981, Marsh departed from his Hope, Michigan, home in order to go fishing in British Columbia, Canada.


Joseph Anderson: Homicide

Joseph Anderson's decomposing body was discovered in the trunk of his 1979 Buick Riviera on September 16, 1991, while the car was parked on the north side of the Gladstone Inn in Jamestown, North Dakota. Anderson's body was covered with a green sheet, and he wore only a pair of white Jockey underwear.


Kristin Joy Diede and Robert Michael Anderson: Missing Persons

Thirty-year-old Kristin Joy Diede was reported missing on August 26, 1993. Robert Michael Anderson, Diede's 32-year-old boyfriend, was with her. Diede's two kids were accompanied by Anderson to see family in Wishek, North Dakota. The last time Diede and Anderson were spotted in Wishek was on August 15, 1993. A Dodge van that was believed to have been driven by Diede and Anderson was discovered abandoned in Aberdeen, South Dakota, on August 20, 1993. Diede and Anderson were allegedly the victims of homicide.

Ronald S. Johnson: Homicide

Ronald S. Johnson's body was discovered frozen in a ditch filled with water on November 6, 1994, about five miles northwest of Dunseith, North Dakota. Although Johnson's autopsy results suggest that he may have succumbed to hypothermia, there is evidence that he was beaten prior to being buried in the ditch.


Sandra M. Jacobson: Missing Person

Sandra M. Jacobson and her five-year-old son, John H. Jacobson, left a relative's house in Bismarck, North Dakota, around 8:00 p.m. on November 16, 1996, in order to get gas for her car. They vanished from view forever. Sandra's gray 1990 Honda Civic was at Centennial Beach in Bismarck the following day.

If you have information about a listed cold case, please contact the Bureau of Criminal Investigation at 701-328-5500 or local law enforcement.

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