Grand Forks woman murdered?  

Did police and Forum Communications conspire to cover-up the homicide of Caitlin Erickson?

by Timothy Charles Holmseth on May 27, 2016, 12:21 P.M. CST

Did the Grand Forks Police Department (GFPD) and Forum Communications cover up a murder in Grand Forks?

Caitlin Erickson, 28, Grand Forks, was found dead in her apartment on February 27, 2015 after neighbors heard a fight between male and female voices they recognized as Erickson and a male friend, Mario Parson, as well as loud banging sounds in the apartment.

Caitlin Jenna Erickson

The neighbors told the police they were worried that Erickson was killed by Parson because of what they heard.

Erickson, a narcotics and alcohol addict, had been desperately attempting to come up with $500 on the day of her death. Police found drugs in her apartment when they arrived at the scene.

Erickson’s body was found by Parson.

But - the ‘news’ (e.g. Grand Forks Herald) did not report Erickson’s death for nearly a month and never told the public about the sounds of violence or the narcotics.

There may be a reason.

Write Into Action’s ongoing investigation into the police shooting of an unarmed man in the parking lot of Altru Hospital in Grand Forks following a vehicle pursuit that began on February 27, 2015, led to the mysterious death of Caitlin Erickson.

Write Into Action learned there was an “overdose death” on February 27, 2015, while reviewing interviews conducted by the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) regarding the police shooting of David James Elliott.

On May 26, 2016, Write Into Action received the police file on the Erickson case and significant evidence shows she may have died as the result of foul play. 

That evidence and information has never been reported to the public.

Write Into Action is investigating:

  1. Caitlin Erickson’s death
  2. Attempts by law enforcement and Forum Communications to cover-up a homicide


According to a police report by GFPD Officer D. Buzzo, Erickson’s neighbors, Juan Griego-Chavez, and Desiray Gomez, were interviewed.

“Desiray had been in her bathroom when she heard the shower turn on and off several times. It also sounded like there was something being thrown against the wall. She had heard some talking and arguing as well. She had woken Juan up and told him of the arguing,” the police report said.

The neighbors were later interviewed for a second time.

“Desiray again told me about the things she heard through the bathroom wall. Desiray stated she heard arguing from a male and a female. The male’s voice was that of Mario’s [Parson]. Mario then yelled “Where do you think you’re going?” Desiray stated she believed there was some kind of fight and was concerned there was foul play involved,” the police report said.


Upon initial review of the police file and reports filed by the media, Write Into Action believes there is a large amount of evidence the GFPD and Forum Communications conspired to deceive the public about Erickson’s death.

The death of Caitlin Jenna Erickson and the pursuit and shooting of David James Elliott occurred in the exact same time window on February 27, 2015.

That is a significant fact.

Both events involved prescription medication and drugs. Drugs were found in the possession of both Elliott and Erickson. Elliott’s vehicle actually contained “thousands” of pills. Nobody was ever criminally charged regarding the pills found in Elliott’s truck.  

As you will see in this analysis, it is abundantly clear the GFPD and Forum Communications did NOT want the public to know about the DRUGS in either the Elliott or Erickson cases. And – they went to great lengths to mislead the public.

For three days following the shooting of Elliott, North Dakota law enforcement violated the law when they refused to discuss the shooting with the media. Law enforcement finally succumbed to public outrage and provided the public with very basic facts about the Elliott shooting.

However, the death of Erickson was never reported by a news agency as a stand alone news item.

Nearly a month after Erickson’s death, on March 21, 2015, Forum Communications and the Grand Forks Herald published an 1800 word feature about Erickson’s life.

It is important to understand the difference between a hard news format news item and a ‘feature.’ Features are much longer and allow significant liberties not allowed by Associated Press format writing and reporting rules.

It is not standard industry practice to announce a death through an emotional ‘feature’.

Erickson’s death should have been announced with a standard news item.


The Herald’s feature immediately attempted to influence the public with a powerful headline: “Devoured by demons: Grand Forks woman, 28, dies after battling alcoholism.”

The announcement and date of Erickson’s death did not appear immediately in the feature as it would have in a stand alone news item. Rather, the feature began with an impression forming narrative about her abuse of ‘alcohol’ (but no mention of drugs).

The date of February 27, 2015 was very significant because it all happened at the same time as the high-media event surrounding the police shooting of Elliott.

The feature was intended to drill into the readers head the concept of ‘alcohol’ and nothing else. That suggests somebody is/was attempting to stop the public from making any connections between the drugs associated with the Erickson death and other drug related crimes occurring at the same time.

As you will see, it is critical the reader take note of two things:

  1. The featured stated NO FOUL PLAY was suspected (despite what the neighbors heard and the Autopsy still not released to law enforcement )
  1. The feature made NO mention of DRUGS

Caitlin Erickson, 28, was found dead at about 10 p.m. Feb. 27 in her Grand Forks apartment, said Grand Forks Deputy Police Chief Jim Remer.

Police have not released an official cause of death yet, as the case is still under investigation, but no foul play is suspected.
     - Grand Forks Herald / March 21, 2015

The feature was utterly saturated with key words and phrasings regarding alcohol. Some of the key words sprinkled throughout the 1800 word piece were:

  • Alcohol
  • Alcoholism
  • Alcohol is a drug
  • Alcohol poisoning
  • Sobriety
  • Drinking
  • Sober
  • Bing drinking
  • Bottles
  • Drunk
  • Drink

The feature was an obvious exercise in overkill regarding alcohol.

The feature was also sprinkled with statistics on alcohol poisoning that further caused the reader to conclude Erickson died of alcohol poisoning.

At no point in the Herald’s feature did they mention drugs or pills. In fact, at point there is a sub-head created that says 'Alcohol is a drug'.

Write Into Action believes the Herald feature was strategically designed and published to make the public believe they were learning the Cause of Death and Manner of Death of Caitlin Erickson before the Autopsy Report was complete.


According to a GFPD report filed by Sgt. Bill Wyatt, he received the Autopsy results of Erickson’s death on April 16, 2015, which said the Cause of Death was “Multidrug and Ethanol toxicity.” The Manner of Death was “Undetermined.”

The following is the definition of Manner of Death

Manner of Death
The fashion or circumstances that result in death, which are designated either natural or unnatural. Unnatural deaths are designated as accidental, homicidal, suicidal, or, in absence of a determination based on the balance of probabilities of the manner of death, undetermined.

Essentially, there is no determination of how the overdose occurred and it’s known if it was natural or unnatural.


The astonishingly deceptive nature of the Herald feature and focus on ‘alcohol’ is found in the reality of what the police reports say.

“I then looked around the apartment to see what the female might have taken. Cpl. Buzzo found empty pill bottles on the end tables in the living room next to the couch. I again spoke with Parson who said that the female, Caitlin Erickson, said something about taking “Benzos.”
     - GFPD Cpl. W. Holtz

“I yelled at Mario from the bedroom to the living room and asked him what kind of medication Caitlin had been taking. He stated she had taken pain medications and heroin in the past. He did not know for sure if she had taken narcotics on this occasion”
     - GFPD Officer Wes Vert  

“A quick look of the apartment only revealed a small baggie of pills located on the kitchen counter.”
     - GFPD Sgt. W. Wyatt

“He stated that he knew the victim had a drinking problem and had done drugs in the past.”
     - GFPD Sgt. W. Wyatt

“Parson said that the female had taken some pills.”
     - GFPD Cpl W. Holtz

It is impossible the GFPD and Herald could have believed Erickson’s death was ‘alcohol poisoning’.


It was a drug overdose.


The Herald writer, Charly Haley, made blatantly deceptive and contradictory statements to trick the reader into believing the deceased girl’s family had concluded Erickson died of alcohol poisoning and nothing else.

It requires significant conscious effort to compose propaganda, which is what Haley did.

“Caitlin's family and friends believe she probably died of alcohol poisoning.”

“Despite the North Dakota's high binge drinking rates, statistics suggest it's rare for people to drink themselves to death, as Caitlin's family and friends suspect she did.”

Haley then covers the base at the very end of the feature.

“Caitlin's family members and friends still struggle with her death and have questions about how she died.”

“…have questions about how she died.”

Which one is it, Charly?


According to a police report filed March 4, 2015, by GFPD Sgt. Bill Wyatt, Jan Erickson, Caitlin Erickson’s mother “was very concerned about the direction of the investigation.”

“She believed I told her the case was closed. I tried my best to ensure her that case is actively being worked and that we are waiting for toxicology results to give us a better idea as to what happened,” Wyatt reported.

“In an attempt to help the mother understand what had happened that day I called and asked Mario Parson to come to the Police Department and speak to me about the events of that day,” Wyatt reported.

On March 4, 2015 Parson went to the GFPD and spoke to Wyatt while recorded on a handheld recorder (why the interview was not video-taped, which captures body language, is not specified.)

The following is the beginning of that interview.

It was the only transcribed interview provided to Write Into Action by the GFPD per the full public records request.

Q: (B.Wyatt) – all right MARIO the reason I asked you to come in was because I’ve been talking to CAITLIN’S mom.

A: (Mario Parson) – Uh-huh.

Q: As you can expect she’s a little distraught. She has a hundred questions.

A: Uh-huh

Q: Um, a little accusatory in some of her conversations as far as what were doing and how were doing, so what I want to do…

A: Uh-huh

Q: is I want to talk about Friday. From the time you guys up Friday, I want you to give me a real complete timeline of everything that happened that day.

Write Into Action observes:

  • For some reason, Officer Wyatt felt compelled to immediately explain to Mario Parson why he wanted to talk to him. He explained it was because Jan Erickson was putting pressure on the police. Why not let Parson sweat regarding the statements by the neighbors about violence being heard at the scene?
  • The feelings and disposition of Jan Erickson do not appear to in any way resemble what Charly Haley reported in the Grand Forks Herald regarding the “family” believing Caitlin Erickson simply drank herself to death via alcohol poisoning.
  • At no time during the entire transcribed interview did Wyatt mention or ask Parson about the sounds of violence heard by the neighbor shortly before Parson found Caitlin Erickson dead.
  • There are no records received by Write Into Action that show the police EVER asked Parson about the sounds of violence.


On May 21, 2015, Officer Wyatt filed the Caitlin Erickson case ‘Inactive’.

“After conducting a case review with Lt. Johnson I have elected to file this case inactive. I have also spoken with the victim’s mother who has been involved throughout the investigation,” Wyatt reported.

Write Into Action continues to investigate.  


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