Town shaken after 4 die in murder-suicide in northeast North Dakota

Local farmers are coming together to help harvest the fields owned by those involved in the incident.

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Towner County Sheriff Andrew Hillier, who's been with the sheriff's office since 2004, said he has never seen an incident like the one Monday, Aug. 29, 2022, in a wheat field south of Cando, North Dakota.
Eric Hylden / Grand Forks Herald
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TOWNER COUNTY, N.D. — Residents in a rural northeast North Dakota are shaken after a murder-suicide at a nearby farm left four people dead on Monday, Aug. 29.

Towner County Sheriff Andy Hillier said his department has never had to deal with anything like this before.

“This is the first,” said Hillier, who has been with the sheriff’s office since 2004.

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A shattered window on the cab of a John Deere combine is seen at the site of where four people were killed in a reported murder-suicide in Towner County.

The shooting happened on a farm west of Maza, North Dakota, on Monday, Aug. 29.

Deputies were dispatched around 6 p.m. Monday to a wheat field on the 6100 block of 66th Street Northeast for a report of four unresponsive individuals. Upon arrival, authorities found four bodies with gunshot wounds, the department said in a news release Tuesday.


The release said evidence from the scene indicates the incident was a murder-suicide. A firearm was located in the possession of one of the bodies. Hillier told Forum News Service that it is believed the four worked together.

Names of those involved are being withheld, pending notification of next of kin. The investigation is ongoing and additional information will be released at a later time, the release said.

The motive behind the shooting is still under investigation, Hillier said.

Farm equipment — some with bullet holes — remained on the scene during the day, but Hillier said all evidence has been processed and it'll be up to the family to decide what to do with the equipment next.

“It’s a very large scene,” he said.

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Harvest equipment remains on scene in Towner County at the site of where four people were killed in a reported murder-suicide.
Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

Several residents didn’t want to go on the record about the incident as they’re still wrapping their minds around it, but said their thoughts and prayers go out to the loved ones of those involved. Local farmers are coming together to help harvest the fields owned by those involved in the incident.

The North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation and other local law enforcement agencies assisted deputies from Towner County in the investigation. There is no known threat to the public, Hillier said.

Maza, North Dakota, was a tiny town in southwest Towner County, just northwest of Devils Lake. According to Grand Forks Herald archives, the town was dissolved in 2002 when its population was five.


Other nearby towns include Cando to the north, as well as Niles and Leeds to the southwest. It's just northwest of Devils Lake, and about 117 miles west-northwest of Grand Forks.

Related Topics: CRIME AND COURTS
Meghan Arbegast grew up in Security-Widefield, Colorado. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Journalism from North Dakota State University in Fargo, in 2021.

Arbegast wrote for The Spectrum, NDSU's student newspaper, for three years and was Head News Editor for two years. She was an intern with University Relations her last two semesters of college.

Arbegast covers news pertaining to the city of Grand Forks/East Grand Forks including city hall coverage.

Readers can reach Arbegast at 701-780-1267 or

Pronouns: She/Her
Languages: English
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