Severed fingers mystery: East Grand Forks Police Department defers DNA records request to City Attorney

by Timothy Charles Holmseth on October 24, 2016, 4:31 P.M. CST

After declaring the ‘mystery of the severed fingers on the picnic table’ “solved” by “DNA” via statewide publication – the East Grand Forks Police Department (EGFPD) has deferred to the city attorney regarding a records request from a journalist.

Police records that include conclusions of DNA tests performed by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) on two human fingers found on a picnic table at Red River Valley campground in May, 2016 cannot be immediately released by the EGFPD.

Michael Hedlund, chief of police, EGFPD, has deferred Write Into Action’s records request to the EGF City Attorney.

EGF Police Chief Michael Hedlund

“Your request has been received and is currently being reviewed by the city attorney to determine if this information can be released.  We will respond to your request asap.  Thank you for your patience,” said Chief Hedlund, today.

Write Into Action is seeking to review the records the EGFPD obtained from the BCA to close the case.

On August 26, 2016 Bruce Gordon, director of communications, Minnesota Department of Public Safety, directed Write Into Action to the EGFPD for the records. “You will need to request that from the lead agency since it is their investigation,” Gordon said.  

It is not readily known why the information suddenly became sensitive in October, 2016. EGFPD officials had already issued a major press release regarding the case being “solved”.  

On August 25, 2016, Forum News Service reported in the Grand Forks Herald and Twin Cities Pioneer Press that EGFPD Lt. Rodney Hajicek and Det. Tony Hart determined the case had been “solved” using “DNA”.

“Today East Grand Forks police received confirmation that those fingers did belong to a gentleman who severely injured his hand in a fireworks accident,” WDAZ TV reported.


Before the case was solved...

On August 7, 2016 Write Into Action published an article that showed there may be a connection between the two fingers found on the picnic table, and the two fingers blown off David James Elliott when he was shot by a University of North Dakota police officer in February, 2015.

EXCLUSIVE: Grand Forks police shooting victim breaks his silence – UND officer was hunting him - - - Two human fingers found in East Grand Forks campground ominously placed there as a reminder of the Elliott shooting? by Timothy Charles Holmseth on August 7, 2016, 4:09 P.M. CST

‘Elliott said the doctor at Altru re-attached his two fingers. However, the fact that two of Elliott’s fingers were shot off has created questions and public concerns about two human fingers found on a picnic table in the campground in East Grand Forks.’
     - Write Into Action / August 7, 2015

The public did not know about Elliott’s fingers being shot off until the exclusive report was published by Write Into Action.

Write Into Action learned through an independant journalistic investigation into the Elliott shooting that UND Police Officer Jerad Braaten tried to shoot Elliott minutes before the actual shooting but his gun jammed; Braaten then hid his body cam under his squad car; "thousands" of pills were seized from Elliott's vehicle by the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation; police body cam video of the shooting was altered; Grand Forks Police Chief Mark Nelson issued a Special Order to destroy the police cam evidence once Write Into Action began investigating; Nelson hired Braaten onto the GFPD after the shooting; narcotics were being trafficked through the University of North Dakota's athletic department; Narcotics Task Force agent(s) were involved in pursuing Elliott; Caitlin Jenna Erickson, 28, Grand Forks, was being murdered in her apartment in the same time window law enforcement was moving in on Elliott (Erickson's murder has been covered up).

The drug trafficking connection to the Elliott shooting creates the reasonable possibility the fingers found on the picnic table were placed there as a message.

However - EGFPD and Forum Communications have publically stated there is no possibility of violence or foul play.

Police solve mystery of two severed fingers found in Red River park

PUBLISHED: August 25, 2016 at 5:50 pm | UPDATED: August 25, 2016 at 6:29 pm

EAST GRAND FORKS, Minn. — The mystery that surrounded the discovery of two severed fingers in an East Grand Forks park appears to have been solved.

Police have DNA results linking a 24-year-old local man to the fingers, which were found in May on a picnic table at a Red River State Recreation Area campsite, according to a news release.

The digits came from a Grand Forks, N.D., man who was involved in a fireworks accident in downtown Grand Forks about a month earlier, East Grand Forks police Lt. Rodney Hajicek said in the release Thursday.

“We’re satisfied with the conclusion of it,” East Grand Forks police detective Tony Hart said. “It wasn’t … the result of an act of violence.”


Write Into Action cannot close its journalistic investigation into the mystery behind the severed fingers because the EGFPD and media did not use any language to confirm an actual DNA match. Write Into Action recognizes that DNA test results either confirm a match or they don’t. DNA test results never merely “point” to anything such as was reported by the Grand Forks Herald.


News reports regarding the severed fingers case is irresponsible at best. For instance - in the Forums News Service story (seen above) the headline flatly states that "police" 'solved' the mystery. However - in the first line of the article it says the mystery "appears" to have been solved.

Deceptive double speak is never an accident.

An article by the Grand Forks Herald has a headline that reads: "DNA results point to owner of severed fingers found in East Grand Forks". The first line reads, "The mystery of the severed fingers in the East Grand Forks park seems to have been solved."

Forum Communications is the parent company of both the Herald and WDAZ-TV. Yet, WDAZ reported “Today East Grand Forks police received confirmation that those fingers did belong to a gentleman who severely injured his hand in a fireworks accident."

The same media company is telling the public two different things - sometimes in the very same article. .

Write Into Action seeks to close the investigation or determine if the fingers match a missing person.

Go Back