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Guilty plea filed for North Dakota man accused of killing woman, dumping body in river

Billy Joe Herman

FARGO — A Warwick man plans to plead guilty to kidnapping and murder charges related to a body found more than three years ago in the Sheyenne River.

A plea agreement filed Wednesday, March 20, in Fargo’s federal court said prosecutors plan to recommend Billy Joe Herman be sentenced to life in prison.

The indictment said Herman kidnapped 36-year-old Amanda Jean Stach Engst, “violently bludgeoning her with his fist and shod feet” and strangling her with a cord around Oct. 12, 2015. Engst’s body was found Feb. 4, 2016, in the Sheyenne River south of Warwick on the Spirit Lake Reservation.

Herman was charged in federal court with murder, kidnapping and assault with the intent to commit murder in June 2018. The crimes hold a maximum penalty of life in prison.

Herman’s wife, 39-year-old Crystal Marie Herman, pleaded guilty in January 2018 to charges of accomplice to murder. She was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Engst grew up in Breckenridge, Minn., and had three children, her obituary said. She worked at Red River Human Services, where her obituary said she found joy in working with people with special needs.

A sentencing date has not yet been determined by the federal court.

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