OKLEE, Minn. – On the surface, Tuesday was a day like any other in Oklee. Construction workers dug holes in the streets and a few people walked in and out of the post office with mail. Others stopped at the grocery store to pick up a few items.
But the quiet scene in the town of about 450 people, 64 miles east of Grand Forks, belied the concern of some community members that Eric Reinbold, who is being sought by law enforcement in connection with the murder of his wife Lissette, is still at large and is considered dangerous.
Lissette Reinbold was killed Friday, July 9, and the U.S. Marshals and Pennington County Sheriff’s Office are seeking Reinbold in connection with the homicide.
A federal warrant for violation of terms of Reinbold’s supervision has been issued to aid in finding him. The Marshals Service is offering a reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to Reinbold’s apprehension.
Anyone with information is urged to contact the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office at (218) 681-6161, the U.S. Marshals at 1-877-WANTED, or to use the USMS Tips app.
A representative from the Pennington County Sheriff's Office told the Herald Monday, July 12, that all deputies were out of the office, presumably either responding to routine calls or participating in the search.
“Yes, he’s in the wind, and that's pretty much the update we have,” said a person in the U.S. Marshal’s office in Minneapolis late Tuesday morning. “He is being actively sought.”
Reinbold is still considered dangerous and may be armed, but the Marshal’s Service would not comment further.
The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is conducting the investigation into the murder, while the Marshal’s Service is focusing only on apprehension.
As a precaution, CHS Northland Grain in Oklee closed early, on July 9, the day Lissette Reinbold was killed. The elevator has since reopened. However, there still are some people in the town who remain uneasy because Eric Reinbold has not been found.
At the Oklee Cafe, a woman was visibly shaken when a Herald reporter on Tuesday, July 13, asked her about whether community members are worried about their safety. She told the Herald that she was leery of going outside when she was by herself and locks the door when she is inside her home.
The woman, like many people interviewed by the Herald, asked not to be identified because she is afraid of potential harm.
Reinbold, 44, in December 2018 was sentenced to five years in federal prison for planning to start a “second American Revolution,” and storing a cache of pipe bombs at his hunting property near Oklee.
He was released from federal prison March 18 on a “compassionate care release.” Reinbold argued that his sentence should be reduced because he had medical issues and also needed to return to his family to help take care of them, court documents said. The request filed in January 2021 notes that his wife had contracted and recovered from COVID-19 earlier in the pandemic and that his parents had to watch their children because it was difficult to find daycare. Meanwhile, his parents also were concerned about potentially contracting the virus, according to the court document.
Men gathered around a table at the Oklee Cafe on Tuesday said they had heard a lot of rumors about Reinbold and his possible whereabouts since the violent death of his wife.
“We’ve heard so many stories. A guy doesn’t know what’s true or not true,” said Brad Gunderson, of Oklee. He and several other men at the table weren’t concerned about their safety.
“Nobody’s really uptight,” he said.
“I had absolutely no trouble with him,” said Michael Swenson, a retired high school English teacher in Oklee, who was part of the "round table" discussion on Tuesday. Reinbold graduated from Oklee High School in 1995.
However, 23 years later, in July 2018, a jury found Reinbold guilty of possessing unregistered destructive devices after a three-day trial.
Besides the pipe bombs, a 32-page notebook on Reinbold's desk titled "How one person can make a difference: Instruction booklet at the HCU (homemade commando university)," was found, according to court documents. The book, which had Reinbold's name on it, had one objective: "to start the second American Revolution and win."
"Media will label you a serial killer, but real folk will call you a hero," the notebook said. "Make them disappear one by one."
Given the reasons Reinbold was sentenced, several Oklee residents said they were surprised that he was released from federal prison.
Friends of Lissette Reinbold were unified in their admiration for her and the way that, without ever complaining, she took care of hers and Reinbold’s children during his absence, calling her a “quiet hero.”
They also recalled the way that she cheered for her children at sporting events, went on mother-child spa and coffee dates with them and created T-shirts for their special events. She also was a compassionate person who was a good listener and brightened her friend’s lives by her presence, they said.
“I’m going to miss my friend,” said one, her voice breaking.