Here is a man -- my direct ancestor -- who always fought for the Indian people:  John Gray with his wife, Marienne.  Attached is an old and special arrowhead and the medal of St. Ignatius of Loyola -- patron of warriors, my saint, and that of many in our family over the several great epochs.  See

And for more personal background, see



This page contains the Appeal and updates for murdered Native youth Russell Turcotte and  updated material on the murdered Indians at Grand Forks, N.D.

We'll continue to up-date with great regularity.  And, although there are now occasional efforts to maneuver us into closing this particular page on the murders of Native men in North Dakota, there is no chance whatsoever that we shall ever do that.  I've been involved for almost 30 years in various dimensions of the North Dakota racism situation -- and for all of my life in many other social justice struggles.  We always keep on, keeping on!  And success is always ours in the long run.






  Member, National Writers Union/United Auto Workers, Local 1981 [AFL-CIO]

[Contemporary photo by Thomas Gray Salter]

My response to a letter of inquiry from a young Native woman on a Montana reservation -- who was a close friend of Russ Turcotte.  Russ, a 19 year old Turtle Mountain Ojibwe with Montana connections, was murdered in July 2002, somewhere along Highway 2,  west of Grand Forks, N.D.  His body was eventually found by a rancher.  The initial response by law enforcement at several levels was laconic but, under pressure, improved somewhat.  The killer remains at large.  [H]
Dear M. -

I am very sorry to have to say that there is nothing new in Russ Turcotte's
case -- at least nothing of which I know.  I certainly share your anger and
great concern.  While a number of names have been tossed about over these
years as "possibles" , none of them have panned out. The case was reopened
two or three years ago as a "cold case" but produced nothing.  My own
opinion is that Duncan is not the killer -- among other things, his
"preferences" seem to run to young children.  Russ was murdered, as you
know, a little more than nine years ago.  For all of that time, we have
maintained the special webpage on the case -- which I am glad you check out
from time to time..   [On it, I explain why I don't think Duncan is the
killer.]  We will always continue to keep the web page going and, if there
is something new, I'll put it on right away.

Thanks very much for writing.  I'm glad some people remember this hideous

Our very best to you!
Hunter Bear, Thank you for getting back with me, I appreciate it. I have been following your website for sometime & from what I see out there, yours seem's to  be the only site seriously devoted to keeping the case in the public view & also to catching his murderer. I also had a feeling that Duncan wasn't the killer, but it does bring a spring of hope just to have at least a suspect. So far this person has gotten away with a cold-blooded murder for 9 going on 10yrs. & like you have concluded, I fear it was some nameless sexual pervert who hasn't ever been on the cop's radar. There isn't a day that has gone by that I haven't thought about Russ.. & how much I want his murder caught & made to pay. When I see your site it give's me hope that people other than his immediately family, who suffer with this every min of everyday Im sure, still care about Russell & are still devoted to hunting down his murderer & making him pay. I will continue to visit & be a
 supporter for your website, thank you, M.
(Our webpage on the Russ Turcotte situation:
Russ' murder remains a very living and, in some instances, burning issue on two reservations and with informed Indian people in the Northern Plains/Eastern Montana region generally.  People on our lists and a special contact list of mine are kept as well posted as we can.  Most non-Indians have forgotten the case.  Anyone who reads our webpage on the matter is aware that, at the outset of the case, there were  mess-ups by some lawmen -- and also by Tim Miller, the ostensible "search guy" from Texas, who came into the scene  with no positive results.  These early mess-ups by some lawmen have rightly angered many Native people who see sharp racial disparities in the way many Native cases are handled -- compared with comparable Anglo situations. [H]
Abenaki/St. Regis Mohawk
Protected by NaŽshdoŽiŽbaŽiŽ
and Ohkwari'
Our Lair of Hunterbear website is now almost 12 years old.  It
contains a great deal of primary, first-hand material on Native
Americans, Civil Rights Movement, union labor, and organizing
techniques -- and much more.  Check it out and its vast number
of component pieces.  The front page itself -- the initial cover
 page -- has about 36 representative links.

Published by Edward Pickersgill in My Town


A native of Northern Arizona, I lived extensively in the Grand Forks, ND region for sixteen years [coming to Idaho in 1997], And from here, I picked up on the murders of the four Native men in the Forks region immediately -- and was probably the first person to put these tragedies and the necessary calls-to-action out widely on the Internet. I have kept up with it all, doing that which I can. [All four victims happened to be Turtle Mountain Ojibwe.]

Our very well visited website page on the murders of Native men in the Grand Forks ND setting is certainly one of our most popular. Three of those murders are now solved -- but that of 19 year old Russ Turcotte, murdered in July 2002 at night, remains unsolved.

As I understand it, state -- and probably Federal -- investigators are now looking yet again at the case. We can only wish them success. And we can continue to think "good thoughts" on behalf of Russ and justice -- and do whatever else we reasonably can,

If justice in all of these Native murders cases has been slow in coming, this has certainly been true in the tragic situation involving Russ Turcotte. Things on that front got off to a poor and ineffective start in North Dakota right from the beginning.

Russ, of course, disappeared from Grand Forks on a July 2002 night while hitch-hiking along Highway 2 to his home at Wolf Point, MT -- and this was reported with dispatch by family members. Local law enforcement officers in the Grand Forks setting were laggard in picking up on it. Early on, we received a reliable report that the police -- after some time had passed -- secured a routine surveillance film from the Mini-Mart on the edge of Grand Forks in which Russ was spotted as a customer. Then for some reason, the police apparently told the grocery manager that he could routinely dispose of the film, and the tape went into irreversible oblivion. It's possible it could have shown Russ' assailant [s] or featured other recognizable customers who might have had useful information. On all of that, we will never know.

While, almost immediately after the report of Russ' disappearance, we were generating many action e-mails to responsible public officials in North Dakota, I began to arrange for a newspaper story on the matter via the Bismarck Tribune. The Trib, of which a son of mine, Peter, had earlier been State Editor, has a significant circulation in the central and western part of North Dakota -- and even into eastern Montana. And its circ also covers the few towns west of Grand Forks along Highway 2.

The Trib story was in the process of preparation when some Turcotte family members asked that it not emerge. The reason for this was that Tim Miller of Texas EquuSearch [Mounted Search and Recovery] --a not for profit group -- had decided to come up from Houston and enter the effort to locate Russ. From the beginning it was clear that Miller -- not at all familiar with the North Dakota setting -- intended things to go his way. As several in the area put it, "He's doing it the way it's done down in the Houston area."

Miller insisted on handling all media himself -- with a focus only on the immediate Grand Forks setting. We honored the Turcotte family's request to let Miller be the sole media manager -- and the Bismarck Tribune story died. [If that story we were developing had appeared in the Trib, it could have led to Russ' body being found much, much earlier than it finally was many weeks later -- and long before it had been hit by several waves of Dakota rain and snow.]

At about this same time, some Turcotte family members asked us what we felt would be the most appropriate search area.

I consulted with another son of mine, John. He and I talked extensively. At one point, years before, he had lived in the small, dying town of Niagara -- about 40 miles or so west of Grand Forks and just off Highway 2. In those days, he made the trip into the Forks and back each day, and had a very good feel for the lay of the land. It was our joint feeling, which I conveyed to appropriate Turcotte family members, that the most promising search area would be on and around Highway 2 -- again, the road to Montana. We specifically suggested west of Grand Forks Air Force Base -- itself about 13 miles west of Grand Forks. The stretch between the Base and Grand Forks is well traveled at all times -- but the vast region west of the Base is all a very, very lonely stretch, especially at night, and with only a handful of widely scattered towns.

This advice was not taken.

Instead, Miller concentrated the search forces [essentially as he was concentrating his media] in much shorter stretches within the Forks and in the four directions just beyond the city. All of this is relatively well settled and traveled turf.

And the searchers found nothing.

And the Miller outfit returned to Texas.

For our part, we began asking that all persons such as farmers and ranchers and hunters and hikers keep their eyes peeled -- especially off Highway 2, west from Grand Forks Air Force Base and well beyond.

And then, of course, in early November 2002, Russ' naked body was found by a rancher, a few miles west of Devils Lake, ND, who was searching for lost cattle. The body was partially hidden in a thicket of trees, not far at all from Highway 2. By that time, there had been much rain and snow.

Now, at this writing [January 2009], three of the Native murders in the Forks area have since been solved. Obviously, Russ' has not.

On that web page of ours, I give my own "theory" about the murder. I am inclined to think it's solid -- but then, again, it is simply my own theory, nothing more nor less. I think he was murdered not far to the west of Grand Forks Air Force Base -- where Highway 2 becomes very lonely and very dark at the time of night he was killed. There are a number of side roads in that setting. I suspect his body, clothing, and gear were carried to the point a few miles west of Devils Lake -- where his naked body was hidden in the small grove of trees. Then I think his clothing and gear etc were taken well to the west and dumped into one of those rivers in that region -- close or just beyond the Montana border.

It's good news for sure that Russ' case is now being reviewed carefully. Again, let's wish the state -- and probably Federal investigators -- all success in solving this hideous tragedy.

And I am sure that many of us, even with our necessarily limited resources, will do what we can to help. The names of a few North Dakota public officials -- and their e-addresses -- are given on our webpage.

Always and forever. [Keep posted via, among other resources,

Hunter Gray [Hunter Bear]
In the mountains of Eastern Idaho
Nialetch / Onen

Abenaki/St. Regis Mohawk
Protected by NaŽshdoŽiŽbaŽiŽ
and Ohkwari'



Almost seven years have passed since September 2001 when Jerome DeCoteau
[Turtle Mountain Ojibwe] was found murdered in his home at Grand Forks,
North Dakota. At almost the same time, Robert and Damian Belgarde [also of
Turtle Mountain] were found slain in an isolated rural area south of Grand Forks.
Less than a year later, July 2002, 19 year old Russell Turcotte [again a
Turtle Mountain Ojibwe] was murdered somewhere west of Grand Forks and his
body found months later in a very remote setting.

In 2003, a family member was arrested and eventually convicted in the Jerome
DeCoteau murder. Now, finally, after a laconic law enforcement
investigation, the alleged killers of the two Belgarde men have just been
arrested. The slayer of Russ Turcotte remains unknown -- and that case
certainly continues. Russ' murder has generated some national news coverage
from time to time.

Immediately following the DeCoteau and Belgarde murders, we posted widely to
the Four Directions and set up a large Lair of Hunterbear page on those
matters; and, following the Turcotte tragedy, we immediately posted and
added much on that to the rapidly growing webpage.

This particular page on the North Dakota murders of Natives is among our
most consistently and heaviest visited to this very moment.

My youngest son, Peter Gray Salter, of Lincoln NE picked this story up and
sent it early this morning. Another son, John, Fargo ND area, e-mailed me.
There were telephone calls from Grand Forks.

I want to say that we greatly appreciate the interest in all of this from
persons of good will -- many on these various discussion lists and others
far and away. Many of you have written letters to the appropriate North
Dakota state officials listed by us. We are very grateful.

The search for the killer of Russ Turcotte continues. We shall certainly
keep you all posted.

In Solidarity.

Hunter Gray [Hunter Bear]

Case generates controversy online
Stephen J. Lee
Grand Forks Herald - 08/26/2008
Although Sheriff Dan Hill and other authorities have declined to say almost
anything about the Belgarde case for the past seven years, it has generated
some controversy online.

Belgarde father and son, Robert and Damien, were members of the Turtle
Mountain Band of Chippewa at Belcourt, N.D. About the same time they were
killed, another Grand Forks man from the tribe died of homicidal violence in
his home. Jerome DeCoteau's His body wasn't found until late September,
2001. Only 10 months later, Russell Turcotte, 19, also a member of the
Turtle Mountain band, disappeared, after he was last seen at a Grand Forks
truck stop. His body was found several months later in a remote area near
Devils Lake. His death was ruled a violent homicide, but no one has been
arrested. DeCoteau's son, imprisoned on other charges in South Dakota, was
arrested in the death of his father in 2004.

Former UND professor John Salter, who now uses the name Hunter Gray, has
written regularly about the cases online, criticizing law enforcement for
not putting enough resources to solve the cases and suggesting it's because
the men were American Indians.

Several months ago, Robert Belgarde's mother expressed sadness and anger to
the Herald that the murders of her son and grandson had not yet been solved.

[Note by Hunter: Again, our large webpage: ]

Men accused of execution-style murders of father, son
Stephen J. Lee
Grand Forks Herald - 08/26/2008

Seven years after the murder of a father and son on a remote gravel road
southwest of Grand Forks, two men have been arrested and charged with
murdering them.

According to Jason McCarthy, the assistant Grand Forks County state's
attorney prosecuting the case, Joseph Moncada, 26, and Billy Jo Aguero, 30,
each was arrested and charged Monday with four AA felony counts, for murder
and conspiracy to commit murder, in the gun deaths Sept. 7, 2001, of Robert
Belgarde, 40, and Damien Belgarde, 19, both of Grand Forks. The maximum
penalty for each charge is life in prison without parole.

In one of the most dramatic and cold-blooded killings in the county's
history, the bodies of the father and son were found five miles southwest of
Grand Forks on a remote road next to a buffalo pasture, the apparent victims
of an execution.

It's the only double homicide in the county in the memory of Sheriff Dan
Hill, he said at the time of the killings.

Officials were saying very little about the arrests Monday, but it seems
clear they think the killings were drug-related, based on court documents.

The case

Robert Belgarde's body was on the gravel road; he had been shot four times
in the back and arms with a 9 mm semi-automatic gun, sheriff's deputies said
at the time. He also had blunt force injury to his forehead, causing a
concussion, and a laceration to his face and neck.

Damien Belgarde's body was found in the ditch, next to the wire fence. He
had been shot seven times in the head, neck, shoulder and back, also with a
9 mm semi-automatic gun.

It appeared he had attempted to run from the scene, which is about five
miles west of Interstate 29 on the gravel extension of 32nd Avenue South.

The identical charges filed against Moncada and Aguero allege each shot both
Belgardes "with a firearm several times," as well as that each conspired to
kill both men.

Privately, law enforcement sources have told the Herald for a year or more
that the case was basically solved, except for loose ends required for an
actual arrest.

At the time of the murders, officials in the sheriff's department told the
Herald the public was not in danger and that it appeared the Belgardes knew
their killers.

Both Belgardes had been in trouble with the law, but investigators at the
time said none of their previously known criminal activity seemed to be
involved in their execution-style deaths.

The day before he was killed, Damien Belgarde had been charged with stealing
a car linked to the holdup weeks before of a Grand Forks motel, according to
news reports at the time. He also was a suspect in the burglary of two other
motels, police said at the time.

An arrest warrant was served on Moncada near the Twin Cities, and on Aguero
near San Antonio, McCarthy said. The arrests apparently went without
incident, he said.

Both men have insubstantial criminal records involving drugs and violence,
in Grand Forks and elsewhere, and have spent time behind bars.

McCarthy would not say if either man was incarcerated at the time of the
arrest warrants being served. According to one law enforcement source,
however, Moncada was incarcerated when served with the arrest warrant

McCarthy said the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation was involved
in the arrest of Moncada.

Extradited to N.D.

Both men will have to be extradited to North Dakota, McCarthy said.

Aguero's criminal record includes a 2004 federal conviction for being a
felon in the possession of firearms; he was sentenced to two years in
prison, to be served at the same time as a state district court sentence.

Aguero was convicted in state district court in Grand Forks in 2002 of the
aggravated assault Aug. 6, 2001, of a juvenile male outside a Taco John's in
Grand Forks. Arrested Aug. 6, 2001, he paid his own $5,000 cash bond to bail
out on that charge Aug. 10, 2001, less than a month before the Belgardes
were murdered. He jumped his bail, in fact, and later had to forfeit the
$5,000 for failing to appear, according to court documents,

In late 2002, he was arrested in Texas on the 2001 assault and had to be
extradited from the San Antonio area to face the charge in court; he was
sentenced to five years in prison with three years suspended.

In that case, prosecutors went to court to force Aguero to give a DNA
sample, which he had refused to do voluntarily, according to court records.

In 2000, Aguero was convicted of misdemeanor assault in state district court
in Grand Forks and sentenced to a year in the county jail. His co-defendant
in that case was Lee Avila of East Grand Forks, according to court

Avila was murdered in a drug-related shooting in his East Grand Forks home
in June 2005, in an incident linked to a wide federal drug crime
investigation, Operation Speed Racer, that has led to more than 60 people
being charged.

In Monday's court filing of the charges, Aguero is identified as Billy Joe
Valdez Aguero; in other court documents, including his $5,000 bond in 2001,
his signature can be seen rendered as "Billy Jo Aguero."

In 2002, Aguero gave the court an East Grand Forks address in the 1100 block
of Fifth Avenue Northwest.

Drug charges

In 2002, Moncada was convicted in state district court in Grand Forks of
possessing cocaine and marijuana with the intent to deliver, a Class A
felony, and sentenced to four years in prison, with 2œ years suspended.

To face that charge, Moncada was extradited from the jail in Crookston to
Grand Forks. He also spent time last year in the Tri-County Correctional
Center in Crookston, a jail official said Monday.

Grand Forks County State's Attorney Peter Welte said he could not comment on
the case, including whether others might be arrested in connection with it.

"This has been a cooperative effort involving both local law enforcement and
the state BCI," Welte said Monday. "To preserve the integrity of the case,
we're withholding any further comments until the completion of the case."

However, the charging document filed Monday gives some indication of the
breadth of the investigation. The list of possible witnesses for the
prosecution includes apparent relatives and friends of the Belgardes, as
well as of the defendants; Aguero himself also is listed as a prosecution
witness but not Moncada.

The list also includes four FBI agents, a federal Drug Enforcement
Administration agent, four officers in the Grand Forks Narcotics Task Force,
East Grand Forks Police officers and Polk County Sheriff's deputies.

Reach Lee at (701) 780-1237; (800) 477-6572, ext. 237; or send e-mail to

Abenaki/St. Regis Mohawk
Protected by NaŽshdoŽiŽbaŽiŽ
and Ohkwari'


NOTE BY HUNTER BEAR: July 28, 2007

Please forward this as broadly as you can. Much appreciated!

It has been six years since Robert and Damian Belgarde, father and son and Turtle Mountain Chippewa Indians, were shot to death in rural Grand Forks County, North Dakota -- and five years since 19 year old Russell Turcotte, also a Turtle Mountain Chippewa, was murdered at night somewhere along lonely Highway 2, west of Grand Forks. No one has been arrested for any of these murders. Court TV earlier this month ran a segmental piece on Russ' murder -- but that production, frankly mediocre, has faded. There has been virtually no media coverage of the Belgarde tragedy.

And these cases are in great danger of becoming "lost" in the context of ever-flowing national and global horror.

We were the first, frankly, to pick up on these cases -- almost immediately after they became known -- and, via our Hunterbear website and e-mail and a large number of personal contacts, have been able to propel them out to the regional and national realms. But it is a constant struggle.

This is the Link to our large and up-to-date page on murders of Natives in North Dakota [a state in which we resided for sixteen years.]

Appropriate E-mail messages to these two officials would be helpful:

The two officials are: Honorable John Hoeven, Governor

Honorable Wayne Stenehjem, Attorney

Abenaki/St. Regis Mohawk
Protected by NaŽshdoŽiŽbaŽiŽ
and Ohkwari'

We are now able to reach, via our e-mail lists and collateral sources, thousands of people in just a few minutes.


[This is being placed on our consistently much visited website on the Russ
Turcotte murder:

We were not especially impressed with the production.  Bill Turcotte, father
of Russ, and the other family member, Jacob Turcotte,  definitely handled
their end of things very well indeed. Our family and many others can
certainly identify and empathize with their deeply spiritual perspective and
approach.  The Court TV production has the saving grace of keeping this
often dangerously obscure case "alive."  It was interesting for us -- who
spent sixteen years in the Grand Forks setting and the Northern Plains
region -- to see shots of very familiar local places.  But the Court TV
program struck us as almost tabloid in nature, far too short in duration [a
half hour time bloc], skimpy in detail, confused in its presentation -- and
interrupted by the inevitable several substantial commercials.  The
production centered primarily on the endeavors of psychics.  There are
people for sure who are genuinely so gifted, but the psychics utilized in
the program -- for whom no background was given -- seemed to us

To be frank, I have never expected much out of any Court TV segment. I have
occasionally watched the program casually.  This particular episode, I
should add, will be replayed a few more times this July.

My own strong hunch has been for virtually all of these past five years -- 
and it is indicated at several points in our large website page on the
hideous situation and in several Internet posts -- that Russ Turcotte was
killed by an out-of-state passing-through sexual psychopath on a side road
off Highway 2, not too far west of the Grand Forks Air Force Base where the
highway then becomes continuously dark and very lonely at night.
The body was then taken several miles west of Devils Lake [a town
itself about 90 miles from the Forks] and, as we all know, dumped nude in a clump of trees
off Highway 2 and partially covered by loose brush. It would not be unlikely
that the killer then took Russ' possessions and later threw those into one
of the rivers [e.g., the Missouri] in western North Dakota or extreme
eastern Montana.

While any lead in this sort of situation obviously has to be followed to its
limit, I would guess that Russ' killer is a youngish, smooth "professional
person" -- initially reassuring -- from a setting like Seattle/Tacoma.
That's been my consistent feeling since soon after the onset of the tragedy
and I have indicated it numerous times. 

In any case, as we have said for years now, anyone with any even possibly
relevant information should contact:

North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation

Attn:  Jerry Kemmet
PO Box 1054
Bismarck, ND 58502
(701) 328-5500



I have made these points at various times since this tragedy ensued:

There are  good reasons why, in my opinion, Russ Turcotte was not killed by
a North Dakota person or persons.  It is more than 300 miles from Grand
Forks, ND to his home at Wolf Point, MT.  He knew [as I do] Highway 2. A
sharp young person, he had to be well aware that, in the entire stretch -- 
dark and lonely from nearby Grand Forks Air Force Base westward -- there are
only a half dozen or so smaller towns along that entire route.  He would
not, I am sure, be inclined to leave the well lighted and perennially open
traveler's commercial area on the westward end of Grand Forks unless he
found a ride which, in his mind, offered him a full trip through to Wolf
Point. In other words, he would not get into a vehicle with a North Dakota
plate and thus run the risk of being "let off in the middle of nowhere."
I'm sure he, with a pack, was tired.  It was very late at night. He knew
that money was  coming at some point via his family.  Catching a ride for
only part of the way could lead to his simply being stranded in darkness.
[As a comparably young person [barely 21] many years ago, I myself missed a
connection at Seligman, Arizona at 2 a.m. I began walking eastward on
Highway 66 -- toward my far-off home town of Flagstaff -- and hoped someone
would stop.  No one did until, by dawn, I had walked about 20 miles at
least.  Then, a nice old couple from Idaho, who could recognize my youth,
did stop and gave me a much appreciated lift.]

North Dakota is a small state population-wise.  There are only about 650,000
people.  For several years now, Russ's family has offered a $50,000 reward
for information leading to the conviction of his killer or killers.  As far
as I know, the reward, offered only within North Dakota, has produced no
viable leads.  It took Federal authorities tendering reward money for murder
information only a few months at the most to "crack" extremely insular Ku
Klux Klan organizations in paranoid Deep South settings in the 1960s.




   My name is Mark Allport, and I live in Pennsylvania at the moment. Court TV ran Russell's program again, and I was struck by the way it was presented.  Although they do present it as hype for the psychic realm, I was still pleased that they decided to show it again, the more exposure the better.  I was moved to send along condolences to the Turcotte family, but didn't know where to send to.  I am 1/4 Kickapoo from Ohio Valley, raised in Michigan, and I have a few friends in ND who are Native Americans, and the case is alive and well within the community.  It's appalling to see the authorities not doing more to bring this to an end, as if you have to be overly wealthy in order to be significant.  I for one believe every life is important and worthy of closure, when that time arrives.  One other mention I didn't quite understand, and quite frankly disturbed by, the fact the Russell attended a "hippie gathering". This must be the mindset of authorities to put this case on the back burner. Investigators in that area seem quite inept at doing their jobs, and only hold the title for vanity sake.  MY best wishes to the Turcotte family, and greatest hopes that they get the closure they so desperately seek.     Mindful wishes,   Mark Allport


Dear Hunter Bear:  I did follow the episode of Haunting Evidence on July 4th.  And I am unsettled.  In the fact that I never heard of the previous murders of these men.  I don't remember hearing it in the news etc.  And the case with Dru [Sjodin] was on 3 times a day.  Not that that could mean anything.  I guess what I am trying to say is, growing up and being raised in ND all my life, I was taught to respect all people, no matter black, white, brown etc, "we are all the same, our hearts are red we need to respect all".  I guess I am just trying to say, that, whether what color you are, you should be given the attention you deserve.  These murders COULD have been SOLVED, if SOMEONE was doing the work.  
I am shocked, I guess, in that reading these posts.  It seems that Native Americans are not getting the attention they deserve, if something happens to their loved one.  What if the role was reversed?  What if it was a white male/female kin that was missing?  Do you see what I am getting at?  I just think it's horrible, and that Native Americans should receive the same attention, or any other person.
Thank You for your time.  I hope this makes sense.
D.E.  Minot ND.

[Note by Hunter:  Her letter, of course, makes a great deal of sense indeed -- and I have written her to that effect.]


My journalist son, Peter, has just picked this up on the Russell Turcotte murder case.  Russ -- and we have posted frequently on this in the past -- was the 19 year old Turtle Mountain Chippewa who was abducted and murdered west of Grand Forks, North Dakota, in July 2002.  His killer remains at large.  We have a long website page on this tragic case as well as other relatively recent murders of Native men in North Dakota.

"Show debut: An episode of Court TV's show “Haunting Evidence,” which was filmed in Grand Forks and Devils Lake, will air the first time at 9 p.m. July 4 and then four more times throughout the rest of that week. [Note by Hunter:  I suppose the precise times may vary with the respective time zone.]

The show interviews psychics and paranormal investigators as well as local law enforcement to try to uncover clues behind the 2002 murder of Russell Turcotte."

I have no idea of the quality or detail re the Court TV presentation -- but it would certainly be worth viewing.  And it keeps this hideous case alive.

Yours, Hunter Gray [Hunter Bear]


Abenaki/St. Regis Mohawk
Protected by NaŽshdoŽiŽbaŽiŽ
 and Ohkwari'




Hunter Bear:

I ran across your site when I was looking into eleven unsolved murders in Havre, Montana.  All Native people from Rocky Boy. 
Two 4 and 5 year old girls
one  seven year old boy 
One 15 year old girl
Three women in their 30 -40
One women 40ish never found
18 -20 year old Native man hung with barbed wire
One Native man 20-25 hit over the head and died
Native woman raped by four white men
One of these women was my Aunt.
My heart goes out to Bill and his family - I know how much they want closure,


[Note by H. -- The writer indicates that  several of the murders of women occurred in the 1960s - 1980s period.]



Robert and Damian Belgarde, father and son and members of the Turtle Mountain Ojibwe Nation, were shot to death in cold blood in rural Grand Forks [N.D.] County in September 2001.  No one has yet been arrested for these killings.  There has been no arrest, either, in the case of murdered 19 year old Russ Turcotte, also a Turtle Mountain Ojibwe, who disappeared in July 2002 -- and whose naked brush-concealed body was found in November 2002 by a rancher several miles west of Devils Lake, North Dakota.  For North Dakota and related details, see our website page:
Here in the Pocatello, Idaho setting,  police at Chubbuck [a suburb of Pocatello] shot and killed 22 year old Felipe Galloway, a Shoshone/Bannock, in December, 2002.  Police claimed they had "mistaken" an aerosol can held by the young Indian in his home as a handgun.  Two adjoining police departments -- Pocatello and Blackfoot -- who provided "peer investigations," white-washed the whole thing.  The FBI took the position that Felipe Galloway's civil rights had not been violated.   It was subsequently shown by private attorneys that the ostensibly mistaken aerosol can contained no fingerprints whatsoever of the slain young man [the only prints on the can being that of a cousin.]  In a civil proceeding which was recently settled, the Chubbuck police have agreed to pay Felipe Galloway's family the sum of $90,000.  For background details on this killing and some other regional situations, see this website page of ours
Keeping on,
Hunter Gray [Hunter Bear]



Russell Turcotte, 19, a Turtle Mountain Chippewa, was murdered at night in the summer of 2002 somewhere along  lonely Highway 2 in the northern tier of North Dakota.  His body was finally discovered by a rancher months later.  No one has been arrested.  [A year or so earlier, two Turtle Mountain men, father and son -- Robert and Damian Belgarde --were found shot to death in a rural area south of Grand Forks, ND.  There have been no arrests in that case.] 
There has been little publicity beyond the region on Russell's tragedy. [The Belgarde situation has received even less.]  This has been in sharp contrast to the 2003 abduction and murder of a young Anglo woman at Grand Forks, a UND student -- Dru Sjodin -- whose body was eventually recovered and whose killer was recently given a death sentence in Federal court at Fargo. 
Now, things may be moving somewhat on Russell's murder -- with Court TV  demonstrably indicating tangible interest.  From the beginning, many members of our discussion lists have been interested in these North Dakota Native murders and many sent communication seeking justice to the offices of the ND Governor and State Attorney General.  I have a large web page on all of this -- SPUSA Native American Commission -- and our Link to that is
At the conclusion of the newspaper story, I am posting a couple of salient excerpts from the web page.   There is, of course, more on the page itself.
This news story from North Dakota papers was forwarded to me by my two sons:  John Salter, a writer who lives near Fargo ND; and Peter [Mack], a newspaper editor based at Lincoln, Nebraska and, among other things, former state editor of the Bismarck [ND] Tribune.
From Mack:
Found this in the [Grand Forks] Herald today. Notice the sheriff's quote -- "The more we can keep this case in the public eye..." You've certainly done your part.
Later  [Mack]
DEVILS LAKE, N.D. The Ramsey County sheriff says he hopes a Court TV segment on the unsolved killing of a Montana man four years ago will lead to new information.

Russell Turcotte's body was found in November 2002, in a tree grove along U.S. Highway 2 near Penn. The 19-year-old Wolf Point, Mont., man had disappeared four months earlier, after he called his mother from Grand Forks and she promised to wire him money so he could take the bus home.

"The more we can keep (the case) in the public eye, the chances for us of getting a tip or another piece of evidence to help us solve that crime increase," Sheriff Steve Nelson said today.

A Court TV editor was in Devils Lake this week, and network officials plan to return to the area next month to film a segment on the case, the sheriff said.

Abenaki/St. Regis Mohawk
Protected by NaŽshdoŽiŽbaŽiŽ
 and Ohkwari'



The following is from David Turcotte, kin of 19 year old Russell Turcotte
[Turtle Mountain Chippewa, then residing on the Fort Peck reservation in
eastern Montana] who was murdered at night along a lonely highway in North
Dakota, July, 2002.  That murder, along with those of Robert and Damian
Belgarde [also of Turtle Mountain] near Grand Forks, N.D. in September,
2001, remains unsolved. My response follows.  For background, see

Mr Hunter Bear:  I'm related to  Russell Turcotte .  My name is David Turcotte. I
live in the Reno NV {the Pyramid Lake area } There was a shooting here on
the res {wadsworth} involving a native youth. They didn't even give him a
chance. Well I just wanted to say thanks for speaking out for us.  Well gotta
go my kids are trying to climb on the car.   Once again thanks      David

Dear David Turcotte:

I much appreciate your fine note.  Russell is not forgotten by a great many
of us -- we always remember.  Killings, such as that you indicate in the
Pyramid Lake setting, are now all too tragically common [to put it mildly]
and it's incumbent all of us to Keep Fighting for a full measure of justice.
And we all shall indeed!

On another note, sounds like your kids are as wild as mine were [and can
still sometimes be].  In addition, we have at this point, eight
grandchildren -- and, especially when they are all together, it is a wild,
wild horde.

Please keep in touch.  Our very best to you and to your family. H

Abenaki/St. Regis Mohawk
Protected by NaŽshdoŽiŽbaŽiŽ
 and Ohkwari'


I sent this to Wayne Stenehjem and thought you may want to know that others
do really care as well. You are not alone John.
Thanks again for all your info on your website.
With highest regard for you and your causes you always bring such class to,


If your son is Jason, then my son Jordan went to Special Needs class with
him at Kelly Elementary in Grand Forks. My son is Native American from
Devils Lake and I adopted him in 1981 when he was 3 1/2 years old.

I am Norwegian from East Grand Forks, Mn. and grew up there and lived there
until graduation and then off and on (mostly on) since then. I now live in

While shopping by myself prior to my adoption in 1981, I enjoyed the
friendly chit chat of the sales clerks, smiles when I entered a store, even
familiarity and sometimes a first name greeting at Columbia Mall.

After my adoption, with my Indian child in tow, I was greeted by blank
stares, followed around the Home of Economy throughout the toy department
and asked repeatedly if I needed help, which I declined each time. When we
would move from one aisle to the other the salesclerk moved with us and
stood at the end of the aisle until we moved on. I was now made to feel like
a felon without a crime having been committed. Salesclerks no longer greeted
me with smiles, no one seemed to know my name at JC Penney's where I had
repeatedly shopped and purchased jewelry for years. I became an outcast
among my "own people" due to the child whose hand was attached to mine.

I went on to major in Indian Studies at UND and found in the Indian Studies
Dept that I was accepted on my merit, white or not. All I had to bring to
the table was a lack of prejudice and acceptance for others.
I happened to have the greatest honor of having John Salter as my first
Professor, Intro. to Indian Studies was my first class and the most valuable
class I have ever attended.

As the mother of a Native American son, I would like to know what the hell
is wrong with Grand Forks? I heard all about Dru when she went missing. My
mother, who had a stroke and was living here in Arizona at the time, knew
her late grandmother and kept me informed each day on what was going on. I
have not heard one thing on the news in regard to the Belgarde murders. From
growing up in the Forks, I know from experience that Indians are held with
as much regard as dogs. I listened all my life while riding the rural East
Grand Forks bus, the boys in the back of the bus picking on the migrant kids
and making fun of them, as if they were less than human. I was hoping upon
hope, that in a world that has so many tragedies going on at all times, that
North Dakota would have come so much further in their endeavors to become
civilized in their thinking in regard to equality among their brothers. We
are all on this earth to help one another, we need to vibrate in unity so as
to bring better Karma to each other. What we do to others we do to
ourselves. Prejudice is a learned behavior, not inherent at birth. We need
to teach understanding in our schools, to embrace each others cultural
differences, and to not have the need to make ones self feel important by
trodding on another's basic human rights. I for one would like to see the
Grand Forks Police Dept care as much about a Native's murder as any other

Thank you for your time and hopefully your unbiased desire to find the
murderer or murderers' of two Native Americans.

Roma J. LaVoie



I am posting this on our website at
This page has considerable background on the murder  of Russell Turcotte --
and the other North Dakota Indian killings as well.

A consistent sexual predator, Joseph Duncan, has been -- as is broadly
known -- arrested at Coeur d'Alene, Idaho in connection with several murders
and kidnappings in that North Idaho setting.  He lived for several years
until recently at Fargo, North Dakota and has, in addition, Washington State
connections.  It's only reasonable that, given my strong interest in the
unsolved 2002 N.D. murder of Russell Turcotte, 19, a Turtle Mountain
Chippewa Indian, I'd get a few inquiries on all of this.  I have gotten
several.  Here is my thinking to date.  But first,

Three Native men -- all of Turtle Mountain -- were killed at or near Grand
Forks, ND in September 2001:  Jerome DeCoteau in town -- and Robert and
Damian Belgarde, father and son, out in Grand Forks County.

In the fall of 2003, Jeremy DeCoteau was arrested for the murder of his
father, Jerome, and subsequently convicted.  Jeremy is a son I did not know

No one has been arrested for the murders of Robert and Damian Belgarde, who
were shot to death in rural Grand Forks County -- probably south of town
where their bodies were found.  We are inclined to see a strong racist
dimension in the Belgarde killings.

And, again, no one has been arrested for the July 2002 murder of 19 year old
Russ Turcotte at some point west of Grand Forks. He was picked up at the
Forks late at night while hitch-hiking to his home at Wolf Point, Montana.

Matters are obviously very speculative regarding Joseph Duncan.  Since
Duncan was classed as a serious sex offender some years ago, I would hope
that he was one of those checked when the state et al. finally became
involved in Russell's murder.  I would certainly imagine that he is being
looked at vis-a-vis a number of unsolved sexual predator crimes.  From what
we have heard about Duncan, the Turcotte situation does not quite fit his
"thing" but, on that one, anything is probably and sadly possible.  Russell
was killed in mid-July 2002, at a point when Duncan was living at Fargo, so
an obvious question is, "Where was Duncan then?"  A basic problem that I
have with Duncan as the Turcotte killer involves distance.  [Although from
Northern Arizona, I lived at Grand Forks, ND for a number of years and know
North Dakota pretty well.]  I have always felt that Russell could have been
killed just off Highway 2 [the road to Montana] not far west of Grand Forks
Air Force Base and his body then taken much further to the west of Devils
Lake N.D., and dumped where it was eventually found by a rancher. [That
would separate  any signs at the place of murder from the body itself.]  The
Base is only a few miles west of Grand Forks and Highway 2 in that context
is  well traveled.  But west of the Base on Highway 2, things get very dark
and lonely and remain so.  It would be a long drive from Fargo north to the
Forks [85 miles or so] and then over a hundred miles west to the point where
Russell was finally found.  That would carry Duncan far out of his way and
his trip back to Fargo would be a very long one.  Another point is, the
Turcotte family offered a reward of $50,000 for info leading to the
conviction of the killer or killers -- but apparently restricted their
announcement within the State of North Dakota.  As far as I know, this has
produced nothing definitive.

Although Duncan is clearly worth a good hard look in this situation, I am
inclined to feel that Russell was the victim of a sexual predator [or
predators], passing through North Dakota on the way to, say, Seattle/Tacoma
or perhaps Portland.  He was a sharp kid and I somehow think it unlikely
that he would get into a car late at night that had a North Dakota license
plate [I am assuming that is what Duncan had] since he [Russell] wanted a
ride that would give him a straight shot through to his home at Wolf Point,
in Eastern Montana, by dawn.

I had hoped to spend some time in North Dakota on all of this but then came
down, of course, with the worst version of SLE [Lupus] and almost died
several times.  Any travel at all is very tough for me now but I had at
least earlier learned something of computers -- which I once would have
never dreamed possible.  And in addition to knowing the Northern Plains and
environs region very well indeed, I do have some very dedicated and
informative correspondents!

 If anyone does feel he or she has information on any of these N.D. Native
murders, here is an official contact for such:

North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation

Attn:  Jerry Kemmet
PO Box 1054
Bismarck, ND 58502
(701) 328-5500

Later,  H

 Abenaki/St. Regis Mohawk
Protected by NaŽshdoŽiŽbaŽiŽ
 and Ohkwari'


No one has been arrested for the July, 2002 murder of 19 year old Russ Turcotte west of Grand Forks, North Dakota.  Despite a now long standing $50,000 reward offered by his family and focused within North Dakota, there have been no breaks whatsoever in this tragic case.  Frankly, we have said for some time that we see this as a psycho-sexual murder -- and that his killer [or killers] were quickly passing through the state going west.  In other words, there would appear to be no special connection between Russ' murder and North Dakota.  It is possible that there are still accessible and available clues in the state.  But I am inclined to look at Seattle/Tacoma -- or possibly Portland.  I have said this a number of times.

If anyone does feel he or she has information on any of this, here is the official contact for such:

North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation

Attn:  Jerry Kemmet
PO Box 1054
Bismarck, ND 58502
(701) 328-5500


Our Pocatello Area Anti-Racism Committee [PARC] is gathering much indeed on
regional racial and culturally ethnocentric prejudice and discrimination.
This is in preparation for action stuff on those and related fronts - and a
conference we are planning for the relatively near future.  PARC is composed of American
Indians, Chicanos, Asians, African Americans, and Africans.

Many of the local police show inordinate interest in "minority vehicles" -
often stopping them for reasons either flimsy or simply non-existent. A high
proportion of minority people are followed in stores and, when checking out,
are asked for multiple IDs. [I, myself, was for all practical purposes
accused of stealing a shirt  I was wearing- a shirt, threadbare at one
elbow, which I had bought more than a decade earlier in North Dakota!] Few
minority people hold supervisory - or major jobs in general -- in retail and
related endeavors.  There is some evidence of housing discrimination. When
by themselves - or with young peer friends - African women students are
frequently psychologically bullied in restaurants and public facilities by
middle aged Anglo men who stand directly in front of them, blocking their
view and forcing them backward.  There is a notable absence of Indians on
the Mayor's Police Committee -- and at least three major efforts by some
Committee members to seat me have been vetoed by police officials.

When unarmed Felipe Galloway, a 22 year old Shoshone Bannock , was shot to
death by regional police on an extremely minor matter in December 2002, we
raised Hell. No minority person has been killed by lawmen in this area since
then. PARC is also committed to full justice in the still unsolved murders
of three Indians in North Dakota. Robert and Damian Belgarde were shot to
death in rural Grand Forks County in September 2001 -- and 19 year old Russ
Turcotte  was murdered in a remote area west of Grand Forks in July 2002.

The developing conference is called Racism, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties
in the Pocatello Area. It will focus on issue identification, strategies and
organizing, and local/regional hate groups [e.g., National Alliance].

Hunter Gray [Hunter Bear] Regional DSA Anti-Racism Coordinator/Chair of Native American Commission of SPUSA

Brief update on September 2001 ND Native killings -- the July 2002 murder of Russ Turcotte -- and a word on Pocatello, ID  [October 26 2004]

Note by Hunter Bear:

A year ago, Grand Forks, ND police arrested and charged Jeremy DeCoteau in the September 2001 murder of his father, Jerome DeCoteau.  I knew Jerome DeCoteau but Jeremy is a son I do not know. 

No arrests have been made in the murders of Robert and Damian Belgarde -- father and son, killed out in Grand Forks County in September 2001. Promises by the Grand Forks Sheriff's department have come to nothing so far.  We continue to see these as anti-Indian racial murders, pure and simple.

No arrest has been made in the murder of  19 year old Russ Turcotte, killed west of Grand Forks in July, 2002.  In my opinion, this is a psycho-sexual murder, done by an individual or individuals passing through the state that night -- and has no real North Dakota connection.  A $50,000 reward offered in the state [but not elsewhere] by members of the Turcotte family has netted no solid clues of any kind.  Frankly, I'd look for Russ' killer in the Seattle metro setting.

I was making plans early this past summer to go to North Dakota -- and
specifically Grand Forks and the capitol at Bismarck -- on all of this.  I
then became ill and unable to travel.  If at all possible, I'll do this
trip, someway and somehow -- if matters are not satisfactorily

Things continue to be racially very negative at Grand Forks.

Here at Pocatello, no Indians have been killed "under color of law" since
unarmed 22 year old Felipe Galloway was shot to death on December 21 2002 by Chubbuck police -- seeking him on a very minor matter.   Chubbuck adjoins Pocatello.  This killing was thoroughly white-washed from a number of official perspectives. [We made a big protest outcry on that and related matters.]  Things continue to be racially negative in the Pocatello setting. We have actively renewed our planning for a regional Anti-Racism Conference and collateral activities.  

Fighting on -


When you cut to the bone  and cut away the college degrees, academic and other titles, published books and articles, ours is essentially a working
class and Indian family.  We consistently join unions  -- and we always
support them with the greatest vigor.

It's critical to always keep fighting -- and to always remember that, if one
lives with grace, he/she should be prepared to die with grace.


Thought from Hunterbear [May 29, 2003]

There is no question in my mind  -- nor has there been for many, many months -- but that the killer of Russell Turcotte has no North Dakota connection -- other than the fact that he was simply passing westward through the state on that hideous night in mid-July, 2002.  I continue to feel that Russ' killer is an Anglo, maybe in his late 30s or early 40s, a so-termed "professional" person with a quite good,  reassuring kind of car and out-of-state license plates. It's obvious that he is a criminal psychopath.  I would look for him in the Seattle metro area -- and it's possible that reward ads placed in one or both of the Seattle dailies might produce helpful information.  I've communicated these thoughts to the Turcotte family.  A great deal of time and energy has been spent at Grand Forks and in North Dakota on this tragic matter and it seems obvious -- given the much publicized large reward with no tangible results -- that there is absolutely nothing there.

The September 2001 murders -- still unsolved -- of Jerome Decoteau and Robert and Damian Belgarde are quite another matter.  It's obvious that their killer or killers are in the general Grand Forks, North Dakota region.  The various levels of law enforcement are clearly remiss -- extraordinarily so --  in not having made arrests long ago in these murders.


North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation
Attn:  Jerry Kemmet
PO Box 1054
Bismarck, ND 58502
(701) 328-5500



Note by Hunterbear:

This is a just received letter from Ms. Tammy Miller, cousin of  Russ
Turcotte, the 19 year old Turtle Mountain Chippewa  [Ojibway] youth -- last
seen at Grand Forks, North Dakota and murdered in that general region last
mid-July 2002.  No arrests have made been in his case -- nor have any been
yet made in the  September 2001 Grand Forks, N.D.  murders of Turtle
Mountain Indians Robert Belgarde [40], his son Damian [19], and Jerome
Decoteau [50] -- all murdered on virtually the same date.  See this on our
Lair of Hunterbear website for detailed background and updates:

While I am certain the killer or killers of the Belgardes and Mr. Decoteau
reside in the Grand Forks region, I have long had a strong hunch -- based on
logic, and intuition -- that the killer of Russ Turcotte is somewhere in the
general Seattle metro setting. That possibility is being explored with ever
greater intensity by a number of us.

We continue to give this a very high priority -- as we do the sorry racial
situation here in Eastern Idaho which saw police in late December 2002  kill
a young unarmed Native --  Felipe Galloway, 22, Shoshone Bannock. The tragic
affair has been officially "white-washed."  See this from our website for
Idaho details and updates.

In Solidarity -

Hunter [Hunterbear]



We have launched an intensive media campaign designed to publicize this sorry North Dakota situation -- and the utterly inept and uncooperative nature of some of its present law enforcement agencies and officers -- and public officials.  We're using every ethical resource at our command to place this story around the nation and in a good part of the world.

And we're certainly picking up a great deal of interest.



Subject :
Office of Attorney General - Response to email

Date :
Mon, 3 Mar 2003 08:54:51 -0600

ND Office of Attorney General
Wayne Stenehjem, Attorney General

I am responding on behalf of the Attorney General to your email expressing
concern about the unsolved deaths of four Native American individuals.  It
is important for public officials to be informed of what citizens think
about the critical issues facing our state.

The Attorney General and his staff are prohibited by law from providing
legal advice or legal assistance to members of the public or private
businesses - we may only serve as legal advisors to state officials, state's
attorneys, and certain city officials.  However, I can offer the following
information: At the request of local authorities, our Bureau of Criminal
Investigation (BCI) is reviewing the death of Russell Turcotte. As it is now
a pending investigation, no additional information is available. Let me
reassure you that this matter is receiving our fullest attention.

Liz Brocker
Executive Assistant/PIO
ND Office of Attorney General
(701) 328-2210


Thank you for contacting my office.
I appreciate your comments. If you are requesting a response, please know
that we are working as quickly as possible to answer your request.

Thanks again for writing.
John Hoeven

Then I got this:

Dear  ,
Thank you for contacting Governor Hoeven.

The murders that you are referring to in your letter are under
investigation by the Bureau of Criminal Investigation. Investigations like
these, take a fair amount of time to investigate.

Thanks again for writing.
Sincerely, Monty Rauser
Constituent Services



Note by Hunterbear:

Attached is a note from Tammy Miller, cousin of murdered Native youth, Russ
Turcotte [19], whose body was found in early November by a North Dakota
rancher.  Ms. Miller is one of the several family members who keeps us
closely posted.  This gives the link to the Saturday story in the Great
Falls, Montana paper -- which, among other things, publicizes the new reward
being offered:  $50,000.

Our intensive efforts to publicize this tragedy -- and that of the three
other Native men murdered in the last year and a half in eastern North
Dakota with no arrests as well -- are moving along very effectively on a
global basis. Many friends -- old and new -- nationally and internationally,
have been providing much creative assistance.  We are deeply appreciative to
all of you.

In addition to broad publicity, other tactical irons are much in our fire.

And here, too, in Eastern Idaho, we have our hands full with some very
difficult racial situations.

Will keep you all posted.

As Ever - Hunter [Hunterbear]

Regional Organizer, DSA Anti-Racism Commission

Chair, Native American Commission, SPUSA

Active Member also of Solidarity and CCDS




The body of Russ Turcotte was found very close to Devils Lake, in trees not far from Highway 2.  Devils Lake is a predominately Anglo border-town, immediately adjacent to the Spirit Lake [Sioux] Nation Reservation -- and traditionally has been a generally hard-line racist region.  Some years ago, we fought a number of successful Native rights fights in that setting -- and only a few of those many high spots are on this website page of ours:  Racism in the Northern Plains's%20Lake.htm   At this point, as far as is known, there is nothing to link the Turcotte tragedy directly to the Devils Lake setting.

For traditional racism at Grand Forks Police Department, see



Four Native American men -- all members of the North Dakota-based Turtle
Mountain Chippewa [Ojibway] Nation  -- have been murdered in and around
Grand Forks, N.D. within the last year and a half.  There have been no
arrests. The efforts by various North Dakota law enforcement and other
officials in these tragedies  have been notably laconic, confused, and

Originally from Northern Arizona, and now in Idaho, I lived and taught in
Grand Forks and North Dakota for a generation, was head of the Grand Forks
Mayor's Committee on Police Policy for years and, too, was chair of the
City's Community Relations Committee until we left to return to the Rocky
Mountains in the Summer of '97. In 1989, I was honored by the State King
Commission and then Governor George Sinner with the annual North Dakota
Martin Luther King, Jr. Award for historical and contemporary social justice
activities.  I'm a retired full professor [and former chair] of American
Indian Studies at University of North Dakota -- where I was also on the
Graduate Faculty and served a stint as chair of Honors.

My wife, Eldri, and I know North Dakota extremely well, have children
in the region, and continue to be closely involved in the state.

In September, 2001, three Turtle Mountain men were murdered at virtually the
same time in the Grand Forks setting -- a town of 50,000 on the Minnesota
border. [It's the hometown of Leonard Peltier.]  Robert Belgarde [40] and
Damian Belgarde [19], father and son, were killed near the town -- shot.
Within the Forks itself, Jerome Decoteau [50], who I knew and appreciated,
was bludgeoned to death in his apartment.

In mid-July, 2002,  a Turtle Mountain youth, Russell Turcotte [19], was
hitch-hiking through Grand Forks at night to his home in Wolf Point,
Montana.  Last seen at a gas station on Highway 2 at the western edge
of the Forks, he was reported missing a day or two thereafter.  His
partially nude body was eventually found in early November, just
off Highway 2, near Devils Lake, N.D. -- a town about 90 miles west
of Grand Forks.

The response to the Belgarde murders by the Grand Forks County Sheriff's
office was to claim at several points that they were drug-related in some
fashion -- and hence of presumably minimal concern to the general run of
citizenry. [These claims have now stopped, at least publicly.]  There have
been leaked hints for months that arrests in this matter are forthcoming.
No action.

Virtually nothing has been said by the Grand Forks Police Department in the
killing of Jerome Decoteau.  A few months ago, a leaked hint spoke of
forthcoming arrests.  No action.

In mid-October, 2001, I wrote an angry statement about the Belgarde and
Decoteau murders, the growing deterioration and mounting lack of
sensitivity within the GF Police Department, and the general breakdown
in race relations occurring in and around the town itself.  The local
newspaper, The Grand Forks Herald, ran this as a formal editorial
[signed by me] and asked the police chief -- who
had come since we left the area -- to give his response.  He refused
to do so.

Subsequently, in response to a series of our action memos, efforts by people
nationally and internationally to elicit information or at least a response
from the current mayor of Grand Forks, Michael Brown, have netted Zero.
The mayor simply doesn't answer.  For awhile the governor's office -- that
of John Hoeven -- did at least acknowledge communications of concern.
Apparently no longer.

For months after Russell Turcotte's ominous disappearance at Grand Forks in
July 2002, North Dakota lawmen in the region took the very strange position
that it was officially a matter relating to his then residence, Wolf Point,
in eastern Montana, and did nothing.  When, early on, a convenience
store manager told Forks police that he had a routine surveillance video
that showed Russell Turcotte and other customers of that evening, the
police indicated they had no interest in it -- and the tape was eventually
destroyed in the store's conventional recycling process.

In October, thousands of dollars and hundreds of person
hours were fruitlessly spent by a private Texas-based search organization
which insisted on looking for Russ in the immediate Grand Forks area.  We
had strongly advised [advice obviously not taken] searching for him west of
Grand Forks -- well along the vast Highway 2 stretch:  the road to Montana.
And his body was finally found much later just off Highway 2 near Devils
Lake -- where it's been labeled a homicide and is being investigated by
Ramsey County and N.D. state lawmen.

Only a day or two after Russell Turcotte's body had been finally found --
and only accidentally so by a rancher -- I received a very strange
communication from Ramsey County State's Attorney Lonnie Olson -- trying to
force me to remove all Turcotte material from our large Lair of Hunterbear
website. [We have information there on all of the N.D. Native murders.]  I
flatly refused to do so -- and the Turcotte family vigorously backed me up.
I then wrote a special letter to Governor John Hoeven and to the State
Attorney General, Wayne Stenehjem, about the Olson letter and demand.  But
I received no answer of any kind from those officials. We broadly publicized
Olson's letter and  I denounced all of this  in a subsequent
article done by the Havre [Montana] newspaper.

Over many years and after many tough campaigns, we gained much ground in
Grand Forks and North Dakota on a wide variety of social justice
endeavors -- including anti-racism.  But it's obvious that much is now going
downhill very fast. While never any bed of roses by any means, things are a
far cry into the negative side from where they were when I came to Grand
Forks and the state in 1981 to teach at the University of North Dakota.

We certainly -- with all logical people everywhere -- recognize that all
leads in these murders must be followed and that any possibly relevant
information should be reported to law enforcement officials.

I see the Belgarde murders and that of Jerome Decoteau as directly related
in some way.  They occurred on virtually the same September 2001 date in the
same setting.  Lawmen say there is no relationship.  But I [and others] do,
and we strongly believe the murderers are in the basic Grand Forks region.

I do not see the Turcotte murder as related to the Belgarde and Decoteau
killings.  Russ Turcotte was in the Forks late at night.  His mother had
wired him train and expense money which he did not collect.  It seems
obvious that he caught a ride westward that fateful night on Highway 2 --
the road to Montana -- and his home at Wolf Point.   An obviously sharp kid,
who would not want to be stranded at night along a lonely highway, it's
quite unlikely that he would have gotten into a car with N.D. license
plates -- but would have checked to make certain that his ostensible host
was obviously going all the way through.  It's highly likely that he
expected to arrive home shortly after dawn.

I do not see the Turcotte murder related to the racially problematic setting
of Devil's Lake, North Dakota -- where we effectively fought many
significant Indian rights struggles in the late '80s into the '90s.  I
believe this was simply the setting in which his body was dumped.
It's possible that he was actually killed further east -- on or just off
Highway 2 and closer to Grand Forks.  My guess is that Russ was
murdered by a killer or killers -- passing through Grand Forks and
going far westward --  and that his murder could well have racist

I'd certainly say that the Belgarde and Decoteau killings have strong
racist dimensions.  Organized hate groups -- e.g., spin-offs from the
old Posse Comitatus -- are found throughout this general region.
In addition, the setting is rife with plenty of "independent" racism.
The mounting economic vicissitudes in North Dakota and adjoining
sections -- e.g., unemployment and the collapse of many small farmers
and ranchers -- have deeply fueled these poisonous rivers.

We are vigorously planning appropriately creative approaches designed to
keep the fires burning on all of these tragic issues -- and to increase the
degree and scope of the constructive heat.

Your help is much needed.  We ask for e-mails. Please contact these two
State of North Dakota officials and ask them to lend every resource at their
command to push the murder investigations of the four Turtle Mountain men
and secure arrests.  In addition to the need for justice, there is also the
fact that there must be no more of these murders.

The two officials are:     Honorable John Hoeven, Governor

                                         Honorable Wayne Stenehjem, Attorney




Little to go on in Turcotte case, prosecutor says  [Havre Daily News -
Montana]     11/20/02    T.J. Pyette

      The prosecutor assigned to the Russell Turcotte homicide said
investigators don't have much to go on.

      In an e-mail dated Nov. 7, Ramsey County State's Attorney Lonnie Olson
told a social justice activist, "This is a case where the trail of the
murderer is cold."

      Olson said the strategy of the investigative team is to wait for the
murderer to confess. "In our experience, we expect that the best chance for
the murderer to be brought to justice is by confession of the culprit," he

      Ramsey County Sheriff Steve Hamre confirmed Tuesday that the e-mail
was written by Olson from Hamre's computer, but said that the investigation
is not in a sit-and-wait phase.

      "We are continuing to investigate this full-bore. We are still
actively searching for leads and when we are done searching, we'll find
somewhere else to search," Hamre said.

      "It would be unfair of me to comment on the contents of that letter,"
he added, "but I would like to say I hope that (waiting for a confession)
does not become our only strategy."

      Olson could not be reached for comment.

      Turcotte's body was found in a shelter belt near Devils Lake, N.D., on
Nov. 5, about 90 miles west of Grand Forks, where Turcotte was last seen on
July 12 as he hitchhiked home to Montana from a hippie gathering in

      Olson sent the e-mail to Hunter Gray, regional organizer of the
Democratic Socialists of America Anti-Racism Committee. Gray has criticized
Grand Forks law enforcement for not aggressively investigating after
Turcotte was reported missing.

      The e-mail said a confession would most likely be obtained in a prison
setting and that the only way a jury would believe such a confession would
be if it contained elements that only the murderer could know.

      Olson asked Gray to remove references to Turcotte's homicide from his
Web site so as not to interfere with the investigation.

      "The murderer may very possibly be reading your Web site," he wrote.

      Gray posted a response on his Web site: "I obviously have no intention
of removing or reducing my Web site page covering the Turcotte tragedy in
any fashion whatsoever."

      He added, "Let's hope a far more zealous and immediate search for the
killer or killers is being conducted by North Dakota officials than the
apparently leisurely approach laid out in this extraordinarily strange

      Hamre admitted that authorities do not have any suspects, and said he
has not yet received the results of the autopsy.

      Once the autopsy results are available, Hamre said, he will not make
public any information that only the killer could know.

      Hamre said last week he doesn't believe there is any connection
between Turcotte's homocide and the slayings of three Turtle Mountain
Chippewa men in and around Grand Forks in September 2001. Turcotte was also
a member of the Turtle Mountain clan.

      Gray, a former Indian studies professor at the University of North
Dakota who formerly used the name John Salter Jr.,  speculated on his
Web site about a link between the cases. Gray is the chair of the Native
American Commission for the Socialist Party USA and is a former head of the
Mayor's Committee on Police Policy in Grand Forks, and later chair of the
city's Community Relations Committee.

      Hamre also said he has no reason to believe that the disappearances of
four college-age students missing in the Upper Midwest are connected to
Turcotte's death, although, he said, "All avenues are still being explored."

      All four students, 20 to 21 years of age, disappeared after visiting
bars or being at parties late at night. The missing students, one in
Wisconsin and three in Minnesota, disappeared in a time period between Oct.
30 and Nov. 9.

      Turcotte's father, William Turcotte of Havre, said last week that he
hoped the family would be given some answers when they retrieved Russell's
body. He also said he was anxious to hear the results of the autopsy.

      "I hope it (the autopsy report) leads somewhere, rather than just
telling us they have a cold trail," Turcotte said.

      Gray released Olson's e-mail on Monday after inquiries he made to the
North Dakota governor's office and the state attorney general regarding the
message received no response.



From Hunter Gray [Hunterbear]

Here, right at this outset, I have two things to say:

First, it's obviously critical that the killer or killers involved in these
hideous situations be swiftly apprehended before anyone else is murdered.
And secondly, we have no intention of removing any material from
our Hunterbear website relating to any of these matters.

The funeral of Russell Turcotte has been held today, November 18, at Wolf
Point, Montana. He, of course, is the 19 year old Turtle Mountain
Chippewa youth missing at Grand Forks since July 12, 2002 and found
murdered just off Highway 2 near Devils Lake, North Dakota, in early

There have been no arrests yet in this case.  Nor have there been any
arrests yet in the murders of the other three Turtle Mountain men -- Jerome
Decoteau, and Robert and Damian Belgarde -- murdered at Grand Forks in
September 2001:  fourteen months ago.

For close to four months after Russell's disappearance, Grand Forks law
enforcement authorities took the position that it was a case belonging to
Wolf Point -- Russell's Montana home -- even though he'd last been sighted
in Grand Forks. No systematic search was conducted by North Dakota
lawmen -- and, when Russell's body was finally found 90 miles or so
west of the Forks -- close to Highway 2 -- it was by a man searching
for cattle that had escaped from his truck.

A couple of days after the murdered body was found, I received a very
strange communication purporting to come from the State's Attorney at Devils
Lake, in Ramsey County, North Dakota.  I post it here, with the
qualification that [1] it obviously isn't on any official letterhead; [2] is
apparently sent from the office of the county sheriff -- Steve Hamre --
something we learned only later through our own deductive efforts; [3]
makes little logical sense.  Consequently, we see it as a  very mysterious
letter -- and, from that perspective, I immediately sent it on to the
Bismarck offices of Governor John Hoeven and State Attorney General
Wayne Stenehjem, accompanied by a letter of my own to them.

The following is the strange letter from Devils Lake, along with my letter
to the North Dakota state officials -- and finally my wrap-up comments for
the present.

And let's hope a far more zealous and immediate search for the killer or
killers is being conducted by North Dakota officials than the apparently
leisurely approach laid out in this extraordinarily strange communication:

----- Original Message -----
From: Steve Hamre
Sent: Thursday, November 07, 2002 10:47 AM
Subject: Russell Turcotte death in Ramsey County North Dakota

Dear Mr Salter,
          My name is Lonnie Olson, Ramsey County State's Attorney.  At this
moment, agents of the FBI, North Dakota BCI, the Ramsey County Sheriff and
myself are meeting to review the evidence and set a strategy for the
investigation and prosecution of the person or persons responsible for the
death of Russell Turcotte.  We are extremely concerned about the amount of
information being leaked to the public.  We are asking for the information
to be removed from your web page.
          This is a case where the trail of the murderer is cold. In our
experience, we expect that the best chance for the murderer to be brought to
justice is by confession of the culprit.  These confessions will not
generally be made to upstanding persons of our society, but to prison
inmates by the murderer who will be bragging in prison in order to gain
social status in the prison society.   I am sure you will recognize that a
jury will inherently not trust prison confessions, because these convicts
will always expect a quid pro quo, thus a shorter prison sentence for giving
the information.  The ONLY way a jury will believe a prison confession is
when this convict witness testifies to bits and pieces of the truth that
only the murderer would know.  Thus I hope you see how imperative is it that
the public not be given the information that only the murderer knows.  If
this information is public, the defense attorney will only have to say
"don't believe them,these prison confession witnesses only are relating
information that is known to the public", and the MURDERER WILL WALK.
         I speak from experience.  In 1986, a young Native American male
named Gilbert Fassett was found dead and very decomposed on what was then
called the Devils Lake Sioux Indian Reservation.   Assistant US Attorney
Lynn Crooks released very limited information to the press, and actually
some misinformation.  Mr Crooks knew that the best chance of solving this
murder was by prison confession, and that the only way to make these
witnesses credible was by them only knowing the truth that only the murderer
would know. It worked.  Werner Kunkel, an acquaintence of Fassett's, was the
last man seen with Fassett .  As years went by, he bragged to various people
in prison and to a girlfriend.  Six of these people testified including
evidence that only the murderer-Werner Kunkel- would have known.  In August
1995, a jury in Ramsey County convicted Kunkel of the murder of Fassett.
The only way this was achieved was through the wisdom and foresight of Lynn
Crooks.  Mr Crooks was allowed by the US Attorney, the late John Schneider,
to assist me in the prosecution of Kunkel.  The charge had to be filed in
Ramsey County, because all Kunkel's confessions had him committing the
murder in Ramsey County and that he dumped the body on the reservation.
         I could go on and on about the murder of Gilbert Fassett, someday I
may write a book about it. It had a lot of fascinating twist and turns, but
that is something for another day.   For this day, I ask for your assistance
so that we may have the best possible case to present against the murderer
of Russell Turcotte.  I also ask for you to keep this between ourselves, as
I would very much prefer to keep our strategy a secret.  The murderer may
very possibly be reading your website.

                               Lonnie W. Olson
                               Ramsey County State's Attorney

From Hunter:

This is addressed to the Governor and the Attorney General, State of North
Dakota, Bismarck   [11/07/02]


As you are aware, I've been involved -- as much as possible -- in
endeavoring to secure justice for the three murdered Turtle Mountain men at
Grand Forks and also long-missing [and now known to have been murdered]
Russell Turcotte. [Wayne, by the way, knows me reasonably well.]

I have just received a very strange communication purporting to come from
the Ramsey County States' Attorney's office -- Mr Lonnie W. Olson.  The
e-mail address used to send it gives the name of a Steve Hamre. These names
mean nothing to me since the last Ramsey County States' Attorney involvement
I've had was with the late Lew Jorgensen, some years ago.  This odd letter
is attached and you'll note that it really makes little logical sense in the
context of criminal investigation.  It occurs to me that it could easily be
a crank -- or, even possibly, someone with his own vested interest in this
tragic matter.

The letter addresses me by my former name which I legally changed in 1995 --
and which I now use only for purposes of historical identification.

The material on our website relating to Russell Turcotte's disappearance and
confirmed murder is comparatively minimal:  my logical speculation about
what happened -- based on a generation of residence in that section of North
Dakota -- and communications from Turcotte family members who have kept me
very closely posted to this moment.

Given the very strange nature of this -- and its departure into other and
unrelated case matters -- I am sending it to your offices forthwith.
Although I have no intention of publicizing this strange communication, I am
sending a copy to several family members simply for reference:  My wife,
Eldri; my son, John, a writer at Glyndon, MN in the Fargo area; and my son,
Peter, an editor of the Lincoln Journal Star -- sister paper of the Bismarck
Trib of which Pete was for some years State Editor.

Here is our website page on the Turcotte tragedy.

With best wishes, I am
Hunter Gray  2000 Sandy Lane, Pocatello, Idaho 83204   

And finally this wrap-up note by me, Hunter Gray [November 18,  2002]:

I've heard nothing from any North Dakota official source regarding this
strange letter I received -- no confirmation that it's actually from Lonnie
Olson, State's Attorney of Ramsey County -- nor has there been any response
of any sort to my communication to Gov John Hoeven and
AG Wayne Stenehjem.  Steve Hamre, from whose system
the letter purportedly from  Olson was apparently sent, is the sheriff of
Ramsey County -- and we have determined that the sending address
seems to be located at the Lake Region Law Enforcement Center at Devils
Lake. This is, of course, the same general setting in which the two Sioux
kids, Marty Hegland and Tammy McKay, were very badly treated by "lawmen"
back in '87 --  as we were building our  effective 'rights campaign at
Devils Lake -- and that touched off our boycott and related actions in
that racist bastion. See this page from our Hunterbear website for some
highlights of these campaigns's%20Lake.htm

Given all of this -- and the absence of any responses
at all from the North Dakota state officials to my letter of many days
ago -- we are now making this public.

In any event, the Olson letter -- whether actually written by Olson or
not -- apparently comes from some sort of official source.  Be that as it
may, I obviously have no intention of removing or reducing my website page
covering the Turcotte tragedy in any fashion whatsoever.  And, as I
mentioned in an earlier note, I've now added to that page my website link
on Northern Plains racism which gives some of the many highlights of our
battles at racist Devils Lake. [I've also, on the same page, added a bit
regarding the sorry and increasingly obvious racist situation right here at
Pocatello which draws our efforts as well.]

Lynn Crooks, mentioned in the "Olson letter" in
connection with another case, is the Assistant US Attorney who engineered
the frameup of Leonard Peltier at Fargo.

In Solidarity -- and more later

Hunter Gray  [Hunter Bear] [formerly John R Salter, Jr]

Evening of November 6:  Reports indicate Russ Turcotte's body was found near Devils Lake, N.D. -- a town also on Highway 2, the road to Montana. The earlier report that it was found near Minot, N.D. was in error.  Devils Lake is about 90 miles west of Grand Forks where Russ was last seen on the night of July 12, 2002.  Law enforcement officers are quoted as calling it a homicide.



Note by Hunter Bear:  [Wednesday, November 6, 2002]

I have just received this sad confirmation of that which we have long
suspected: the murder of Russell Turcotte, the missing 19 year old Turtle
Mountain Chippewa youth.

Tammy Miller, I should add, is Russ'  devoted cousin.  Minot, ND is a small
city about 200 miles west of Grand Forks on Highway 2 -- the road to

No arrests have yet been made at Grand Forks in the September 2001 murders
of the three Turtle Mountain Chippewa men in that setting:  Jerome Decoteau,
and Robert and Damian Belgarde.

Hunter [Hunter Bear]




Abenaki/St. Regis Mohawk
Protected by NaŽshdoŽiŽbaŽiŽ
and Ohkwari'

Our Lair of Hunterbear website is now almost 12 years old.  It
contains a great deal of primary, first-hand material on Native
Americans, Civil Rights Movement, union labor, and organizing
techniques -- and much more.  Check it out and its vast number
of component pieces.  The front page itself -- the initial cover
 page -- has about 36 representative links.
In our Gray Hole, the ghosts often dance in the junipers and sage,
on the game trails, in the tributary canyons with the thick red maples,
and on the high windy ridges -- and  they dance from within the very
 essence of our own inner being. They do this especially when the
bright night moon shines down on the clean white snow that covers
 the valley and its surroundings.  Then it is as bright as day -- but in
an always soft and mysterious and remembering way.  [Hunter Bear]