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She left for errands and bingo and never came back. Now Dakota Spotlight explores 1994 North Dakota cold case

On August 2, 1994, 26-year-old Michele "Shelly" Julson dropped off her young son at his paternal grandparents home so she could run some errands in Bismarck, North Dakota. She was expected back in just hours but never heard from again.

Wes and Linda Julson stand on the lawn in front of their house in Center, North Dakota, and hold a fframed photo of their missing daughter, Michele (Shelly) Julson
Wes and Linda Julson hold a photo of their missing daughter, Michele "Shelly" Julson, at their home in Center, North Dakota, June 21, 2022. The Julsons question how law enforcement handled the disappearance of Shelly, who vanished on Aug. 2, 1994, while running errands in Bismarck.
James Wolner / Forum News Service
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Michele "Shelly" Julson's disappearance and the mysteries surrounding it are at the center of the new season of Dakota Spotlight podcast.

Listen to Episode 1 — Fly On The Wall

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The Shelly Julson case has been a mystery from the start.

On August 2, 1994, 26-year-old Michele "Shelly" Julson dropped off her young son at his paternal grandparents home so she could run some errands in Bismarck, North Dakota. She wanted to pick up her paycheck and possibly play some bingo. She was expected back in just hours. She never returned.

Now, her disappearance and the mysteries surrounding it are at the center of the seventh season of Dakota Spotlight, Forum Communications Co.’s premier investigative true-crime podcast.

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In episode 1 of the new season, the podcast dives into the full Bismarck Police Department file on the Julson case, following investigators in the first few days of their work as they interview family, friends and associates to trace Julson's movements leading up to her disappearance. The episode reveals statements and interviews from police of witnesses, what investigators found in their searches and their request for an aerial search.

A first look at Julson's file raises some big questions:

  • Who was harassing Shelly and vandalizing her car? 
  • Why are 104 pages of Shelly's police file missing? 
  • Who are the two mystery men Shelly met just days before she went missing. 
  • And the most important question of all: What happened to Shelly Julson?

Photo gallery — Browse with arrow on right

About Dakota Spotlight, Season Seven: 'Call Me Shelly — The Mysterious Disappearance of Michele Julson'

In this season of Dakota Spotlight, creator, host and Regional Emmy Award-winner James Wolner looks into the cold case of 26-year-old Michele "Shelly" Julson, who vanished from Bismarck, North Dakota on Aug. 2, 1994. Granted exclusive, unprecedented access by police to the cold-case file, Wolner presents a play-by-play review of the initial investigation and further examines the strange events surrounding Shelly's life and her disappearance.

With the aid of new interviews with Shelly’s friends, family and retired police investigators, Wolner dives into the shadows of Shelly’s world at the time — Bismarck’s bar and gambling scene — and tracks the movements of several persons of interest. All in an attempt to answer the biggest questions of the case: What happened to Shelly? Where is she now?

People in this episode

(In alphabetical order)

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  • Officer Robbie Carvell: Bismarck Police Department officer and patrolman, who responded to the Julson missing person report 
  • Tony Hulm: Shelly's latest on-again/off-again boyfriend, and a bartender at Burnt Creek Club
  • Linda Julson: Shelly's mother
  • Michele "Shelly" Julson: a 26-year-old blackjack dealer and mother of 3-year-old Jaden, who went missing on Aug. 2, 1994
  • Wes Julson: Shelly's father
  • Julie Thompson: investigator with the Bismarck Police Department
  • Dennis Walls: Bismarck Police Department sergeant who was the initial and main investigator on the Julson case
  • Jaden Woodworth: Shelly's 3-year-old son 
  • Kevin Woodworth: Shelly's former boyfriend and Jaden's father
  • Richard Woodworth: Jaden's paternal grandfather and the last person to acknowledge having seen her when she dropped Jaden at 104 American Ave.
More from Dakota Spotlight
Exclusive
'Clinker' found on the engine block of Michele 'Shelly' Julson's abandoned car in 1994 may be linked to an early sighting in rural Burleigh County, North Dakota, the Dakota Spotlight true crime podcast reports.

Jeremy Fugleberg is editor of The Vault, Forum Communications Co.'s home for Midwest history, mysteries, crime and culture. He is also a member of the company's Editorial Advisory Board.
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