Details still scant in Northwood shooting incident, residents say suspect was known by few
Law enforcement say the investigation into the Jan. 26 murder of 15-year-old Jonah Borth is uncovering new information every day, but details aren't expected to be released for quite some time.
NORTHWOOD – Eleven days after Samantha Wilson allegedly killed a 15-year-old in her Northwood residence, the incident is still fresh on the minds of many in the town of about 900.
One resident called Wilson a "nut." Another bemoaned the "bad publicity" brought to the community. Many broadly paint the same picture of a woman who was new to the community and known by few.
At about 9:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 26, officers responded to a report of a male with a gunshot wound at Wilson's home. First responders attempted lifesaving measures but could not revive Jonah Borth, a 15-year-old freshman at Red River High School in Grand Forks. Borth died at the scene.
This week, some in the community are still stunned. Others say residents are doing their best to help in any way they can.
"We're all kind of shocked," said Mike Schwartz, who has lived in Northwood for 44 years. "We want (Northwood) still to be quiet and safe."
Official information that has been made public is limited. According to the Grand Forks County Sheriff's Office, there were five people in the home at the time of the shooting, including Borth, Wilson, Borth's father Perry Borth, and Wilson's two 8-year-old children.
Grand Forks County Sheriff Andy Schneider said his department is working to understand the connection between Perry Borth and Wilson. He believes Jonah Borth was in Wilson's house because Perry Borth was there.
"That's some key, critical information we're still trying to identify," Schneider said early this week.
Wilson, 32, is being held in the Grand Forks County Correctional Center on suspicion of murder. She faces a maximum penalty of life in prison without parole. She also is being charged for spitting blood on a correctional center employee.
In her first court appearance, on Jan. 27, the Ohio native told a judge she had been a North Dakota resident for about seven years and that she lived with her 8-year-old children and her husband, who is an active member of the U.S. Air Force and was deployed at the time of the shooting. He has since returned to North Dakota.
Wilson is scheduled to appear in court again March 2.
Schneider has called the investigation "complex" and told WDAY this week that some people involved in the investigation are not cooperating with law enforcement.
"Obviously, it's still an active, ongoing investigation," Schneider said. "There's new information being uncovered every day, on a daily basis, and there's still plenty of follow-up to do."
Perry Borth had not yet been interviewed as of Tuesday, Schneider said.
Northwood Police Chief Mark Pollert said he expects the investigation to take a significant amount of time. He estimates there are about five people working on the case from the Grand Forks County Sheriff's Office in addition to his own department, which is made up of himself and one other full-time officer.
"We've put in countless hours just racking our brains on this," he said. "We're trying to do everything we can to get it out as fast as we can, but it all takes time."
Pollert said beyond the initial shock, the impact on the community has been minimal – a thought with which multiple residents this week seemed to agree.
"People are talking about it, but would I say they're more nervous or more worried? No, not at all," Pollert said. "If people lock their doors, they lock their doors. If people don't lock their doors, they don't lock their doors. It's not shaking the community in a huge way, it's like I said – they all kind of band together. It's almost like they'd rather help than be scared."
Pollert emphasized that there is no threat to public safety.
Wilson was allegedly involved in a gun incident in Northwood about a year ago, according to Pollert. The incident wasn't reported until four or five days afterward. He said there were multiple versions of what happened or if it happened at all, so Wilson was not charged.
He declined to give further details about the alleged incident.
"There was no property damage that was done, there was nobody that was harmed," he said. "Nothing like that .... It was kind of one of those deals where nothing ever got completely settled as far as 'did it or did it not happen?'"
In the wake of the Jan. 26 shooting, Pollert said neighbors are continuing to do what they've always done: look out for each other.
"It never ceases to amaze me, even with that incident, there's always people that were asking, 'is there anything we can do? Is there anything we can do to help the family?'" he said. "They're still looking out for everybody, and still trying to help out however they can, so it's a strong, strong, tight community here. There's no doubt about it."
Herald reporter Adam Kurtz contributed to this report.