by Dennis Dalman
Moorhead Police Chief David Ebinger is asking the public’s help in an effort to identify a vehicle at the site near a Moorhead business where the body of a young Sartell man, Thomas Bearson, was found three days after he went missing in Fargo Sept. 20 of last year.
The Moorhead Police Department held a press conference Feb. 9 to give updates about the Bearson case.
A video obtained from a nearby business where Bearson’s body was found shows a dark vehicle (possibly black or dark blue) at the site. The car drives up in a parking lot near a grassy area, pauses while idling and stays there for about two minutes, then drives off. Investigators have been unable to identify the make and model of the four-door vehicle and are hoping someone in the public will maybe recognize the car. Authorities are not sure at all if the car had anything to do with the Bearson case. They do, however, know the car was at that site at 7:35 p.m. the evening of Sept. 20, about 16 hours after the last time Bearson was seen by anyone.
The North Dakota State University freshman had been with some friends the night of Sept. 19 on the NDSU campus and then later at a residence not on the campus. He was last seen at about 3:40 a.m. outside that residence.
After a massive search, his body was found on a grassy area beyond a chain-link fence by Larry’s RV Sales in south Moorhead.
Since that time, the police have asked the public’s help in locating two missing items: Bearson’s silver-colored iPhone 5 and one of his white size 9-1/2 Nike Air Jordan tennis shoes. Neither item has been accounted for.
Last week, an autopsy report by the Ramsey County Coroner’s Office was finally released, but during the Feb. 9 press conference, Ebinger and others would not disclose the cause of Bearson’s death other than repeating it was the result of “homicidal violence.” The cause of his death was not immediately apparent when his body was found, and police said it took months of autopsy work to determine the cause.
Ebinger said the cause of death was “case sensitive.”
“That’s normal in cases involving homicides,” he said, adding that releasing the cause could jeopardize the investigation.
The press conference, however, did dispel wild and unfounded rumors and speculations about Bearson’s death. For example, he did not die of a drug or alcohol overdose; his body was not mutilated before or after his death; there is no evidence at all to suggest Bearson was acting as an informant for any law-enforcement agency.
Ebinger started the press conference by thanking the media for helping get information to the public, by vowing a vigorous pursuit of the case and by expressing sympathy for Bearson’s family.
Bearson, the son of Deb and Greg Bearson of Sartell, was a superb basketball player at Sartell High School. After graduation in 2014, he decided to study nursing at NDSU.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with Tom Bearson’s family and his friends,” he said.
Ebinger also praised the collaborative efforts of so many who have vowed to solve the case, including the Fargo Police Department, NDSU campus police, county prosecutors and the Criminal Bureau of Apprehension. All of those agencies – and others – are networking together, taking leads and following leads.
Anybody with information about the vehicle or about the missing cell phone and tennis shoe should call the Red River Regional Dispatch Center at 701-451-7660.