April 16, 2001

04/13/01: Ken Christiansen, 19, Duluth, MN

Ken Christiansen, 19, a microbiology student at the University of Minnesota-Duluth attended a party at the house of members of the Duluth Rugby Football Club, with his friends. He drank with his buddies and the senior players drew on his face with marker, something the rugby team typically did during their initiation ceremony. He disappeared after the party while walking with friend Zach Serre. Serre told police the two were walking around a ravine to get to Serre's apartment a few blocks away on East 2nd Street. Around 3 a.m. on Friday, April 13, the pair became separated near 12th Avenue East, between East 3rd and 4th Street (see map).

Although the friend lost sight of him, Serre assumed Ken was okay and that they would meet up again at Serre's apartment. Serre fell asleep while waiting for Christiansen to arrive and the next morning he assumed that Christiansen had just gotten up early to go to class. Friends reported Christiansen missing around 7:45 p.m. that day after he failed to show up for any of his classes and had missed appointments.

Search and Recovery
Police searched for Christiansen on Friday night, but the creek's strong currents prevented authorities from conducting an extensive search. Duluth police used bloodhounds the following day and were able to trace him to a spot along the creek near the alley where he was last seen.

On April 16, after having been missing for three days, Ken's body was found face down in Chester Creek. Police were able to locate the body because the creek's water levels had dropped.

The St. Louis County Medical Examiner, Thomas Uncini, determined that Christiansen had died of a combination of drowning and hypothermia. Uncini said, "it's typical for there to be scratches from his being in the creek, but there was no significant trauma that caused his death."

Charges filed, guilty pleas
October 30, 2001 - Wesley Wheeler Omer, 22, the former field captain of the University of Minnesota-Duluth men's rugby team pleaded guilty to providing alcohol to minors.Two other teammates, Kevin James McGuigan, 22, the president of the team; and Brian Warden, 22, the team's treasurer were charged last May.Warden and McGuigan allegedly bought two kegs for the party; Warden paid with a check from the rugby team and McGuigan signed for the receipt. McGuigan and Warden must now conduct more than 200 hours of alcohol awareness seminars, perform 40 hours of community service and pay a $200 fine.

Facts of Interest in This Case
Name/age: Ken Christiansen, 19, Duluth
College: University of Minnesota-Duluth (microbiology major)
Residence: his parents cabin a few miles away
Last seen: 04/13/01, 3 a.m., Duluth, MN
Recovered: 04/16/01, Chester Creek
Cause of death ruling: drowning, hypothermia
Manner of death ruling: accidental
Blood Alcohol Content: 0.22

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