Bearson died of asphyxia, medical examiner rules

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by Dennis Dalman

Tom Bearson, the young Sartell man who was murdered five years ago in the Fargo-Moorhead area, died of asphyxia, according to the Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s office, but the killing remains unsolved.

The autopsy results were just recently released to the public. Asphyxia, death through lack of oxygen, can be caused by manual strangulation or another form of suffocation. Bearson’s family and investigators have long said they believe Bearson was murdered by someone who knew him.

Bearson grew up in Sartell, the son of Debbie and Greg Bearson and brother of older sister, Maddie. He was a topnotch basketball player and had many friends, who prized his lively spirit and sense of humor.

He enrolled in North Dakota State University’s nursing program in fall of 2014 and lived there in a dorm. But four weeks later, on Sept. 20, he was reported missing. A massive search was initiated, and three days later his body was found on the lot of a recreational-vehicle sales company in Moorhead.

Bearson’s death at age 18 devastated family, friends and acquaintances. In his memory, they created the Tom Bearson Foundation, which raises funds for causes they say Tom would have approved: youth basketball, public and school safety, scholarships and the restoration of the gymnasium at St. Francis Xavier Elementary School, which he attended and where he honed his superb basketball skills. So far, the foundation has raised and distributed more than $120,000.

Moorhead Deputy Police Chief Tory Jacobson said Bearson’s death is still very much under active investigation, and a new investigator has recently been assigned to the case.

The investigators and Bearson’s family and friends are hoping someone will come forward who knows who killed Tom or who might have clues as to what happened.

Author: Dennis Dalman

Dalman was born and raised in South St. Cloud, graduated from St. Cloud Tech High School, then graduated from St. Cloud State University with a degree in English (emphasis on American and British literature) and mass communications (emphasis on print journalism). He studied in London, England for a year (1980-81) where he concentrated on British literature, political science, the history of Great Britain and wrote a book-length study of the British writer V.S. Naipaul. Dalman has been a reporter and weekly columnist for more than 30 years and worked for 16 of those years for the Alexandria Echo Press.

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