April Baumgarten joined the Grand Forks Herald May 19, 2015, and covers crime and education. She grew up on a ranch 10 miles southeast of Belfield, where her family raises registered Hereford cattle. She double majored in communications and history/political science at Jamestown (N.D.) College, now known as University of Jamestown. During her time at the college, she worked as a reporter and editor-in-chief for the university's newspaper, The Collegian. Baumgarten previously worked for The Dickinson Press as a city government and energy reporter in 2011 before becoming the editor of the Hazen Star and Center Republican. She then returned to The Press as a news editor, where she helped lead an award-winning newsroom in recording the historical oil boom.
Have a story idea? Contact Baumgarten at 701-780-1248.
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A mother murders her children then kills herself. Two officers are involved in a fatal shooting. And a five-hour standoff ends, but the suspect dies the same day. The Grand Forks Police Department responded to all of those cases in a little over two months. Lt. Derik Zimmel, who has been with the Police Department for 20 years, said he couldn't recall a streak of violent, high-profile cases in such a short span of time. "We're kind of seeing a little bit of a trend in that regard—higher profile, more violence, more intensity," he said.
Two officers involved in a July 8 fatal shooting have been praised throughout their careers with the Grand Forks Police Department, with their files showing no signs of misconduct or complaint. Superiors have called Cpl. Jordan Drees and Officer Michael Ruit professional and dedicated in annual reviews, and no complaints have been filed against the two, according to documents obtained by the Herald in an open records request. The officers shot and killed 41-year-old John Francis Murphy III during a July 8 confrontation in south Grand Forks.
Investigators have released the name of a woman who died after drowning in a pool this week in Grand Forks.
The Grand Forks jail has passed several state inspections since it was given an order of noncompliance following the death of an inmate last year. The North Dakota Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, however, still says the facility is on probation for another six months.
THIEF RIVER FALLS—At least one Thief River Falls City Council member has denied accusations he threatened and took a swing at a colleague after a fight involving a thrown chair erupted Tuesday at City Hall.
RED LAKE FALLS, Minn. -- A Red Lake Falls woman accused of killing a 2-month-old child can get out of jail for $50,000, if she abides by certain conditions. A Red Lake County District Court judge on Wednesday, July 11, ordered Sarah Leah Kortan, 30, to be held on a $500,000 bond without conditions after being charged with second-degree murder. She was taking care of her cousin’s infant when the baby girl stopped breathing June 20 at Kortan’s home.
THIEF RIVER FALLS -- A Thief River Falls City Council member said his colleague swung a chair at him during a Tuesday argument at City Hall, an altercation that has sparked an investigation. The Pennington County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the disturbance that took place Tuesday afternoon during an Administrative Service Committee meeting. Most city officials have declined to offer details on the case, citing the active nature of the investigation.
PEMBINA, N.D.—A Minnesota man, after being sentenced in Canada, now faces criminal charges in North Dakota after investigators said he tried to smuggle child porn into the country. Craig Eugene Leslie, 27, of Anoka, Minn., appeared Monday in Pembina County District Court in the far northeast corner of North Dakota on five Class C felony charges of possessing certain prohibited materials. Criminal documents allege Leslie had four photos and a video depicting children who appeared to be less than 10 years old being forced to engage in sexual acts.
The Grand Forks Police Department has identified two officers involved in a shooting that left one man dead early Sunday morning. Cpl. Jordan Drees and Officer Michael Ruit have been placed on administrative leave after the shooting that killed 41-year-old John Francis Murphy III. The two officers responded shortly after 3 a.m. Sunday to the 2200 block of South 22nd Street for a report of a suicidal subject with a firearm, according to the Police Department.
A Grand Forks man arrested Monday after an hours-long standoff has died. Samuel James Nelson, 36, was taken about 7:15 p.m. Monday from the Grand Forks County Correctional Center to Altru Hospital, where he died shortly after arriving at the medical facility, Jail Administrator Bret Burkholder said Tuesday morning. An autopsy has been ordered to determine the cause of death. "We have no idea what happened, what's going on," he said. "Of course, we won't until there is an autopsy and a complete investigation as to that."