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UPDATED: Accomplice to murder charge filed in Eddy County case

Crystal Herman

Aformer North Dakota woman is being held on $1 million cash bond in the Stutsman County Correctional Center in Jamestown after being charged for her alleged involvement in a murder.

Crystal Herman, 38, Shakopee, Minn., made an initial appearance before Judge James Hovey in Southeast District Court in New Rockford Thursday. She is charged with being an accomplice to murder, a Class AA felony, in the 2015 death of Amanda Engst, 36.

Engst grew up in Breckenridge, Minn., but had lived in Fargo, Halsted, Minn., and possibly in Warwick, N.D.

Herman, who formerly lived in Warwick, was transferred to the Stutsman County Correctional Center Wednesday from the Minnesota Department of Corrections where she was serving a sentence for an armed robbery in Polk County in 2015.

According to court documents filed in Southeast District Court, Herman is charged with assisting her husband, Billy Herman, to kidnap Engst on or about Oct. 13, 2015.

“In the course of and in furtherance of the crimes or of immediate flight therefrom, the defendant and/or Billie Herman caused the death of Amanda Engst,” reads the criminal complaint.

The state of North Dakota felt it had enough evidence to proceed at this time. Our goal is to bring justice for Amanda.

PAUL LIES, Eddy County sheriff

Eddy County Sheriff Paul Lies said the murder investigation remains open and anticipates other people being charged. He would not comment on the focus of the investigation but did say Billie Herman remains in custody in Minnesota as a result of the same Polk County armed robbery.

According to a Nov. 17, 2015, story in the Grand Forks Herald, Crystal and Billy Herman were charged in a string of armed robberies in North Dakota and Minnesota in 2015. At the time of their apprehension, they were in possession of a car owned by Engst, who was listed as a missing person at the time.

Engst’s body was recovered from the Sheyenne River in Eddy County in February 2016 by the Stutsman County Dive Team using its remotely operated underwater vehicle. Her death was ruled a homicide in March after an investigation by the FBI, North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the Devils Lake Police Department and the Eddy County Sheriff’s Department.

The criminal complaint accuses Crystal Herman of opening a car door allowing her husband to strangle Engst, clearing the trunk of the car to allow the transportation of Engst and holding a flashlight while Billy Herman beat Engst with a shovel.

“The state of North Dakota felt it had enough evidence to proceed at this time,” Lies said. “Our goal is to bring justice for Amanda.”

A Class AA murder is punishable by life in prison without parole.

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