May 19, 2009

Authorities revisiting 15-year old cold case

NBC15 has reported today that authorities are taking another look at a suspicious death. Fifteen years ago--on Memorial Day weekend 1993--the body of Iowan Brian Deitrich was found on a fairly desolate island on the Mississippi River south of Prairie du Chien, Minnesota.

He had been missing since October 30, 1993 after heading home from Schooner's bar after a scuffle with someone. At the time, his girlfriend insisted to the authorities that he was in the river. His body turned up the following May.

Posted Monday, May 17, 2009 --- 10:00 p.m.

Reporter: Dana Brueck and Chief Photojournalist Curt Lenz
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A man's body is found on an island in the Mississippi River, south of Prairie du Chien. The coroner rules his death was due to drowning, but investigators have always believed there was more to it!

Now, 15 years later, they're more convinced than ever --- and they want your help.

"There are certain cases in every law enforcement officer's life that you think back on it, and you think, what can I do different?"

The death of Brian Dietrich is one of those cases.

"What has happened in 15-16 years that maybe we can go back and solve this case."

Lauren Knutson retired from the Crawford County Sheriff's Department three years ago. But he never truly left the work behind him.

"This was just too good a case to let go. There were just too many question marks... too many red flags."

Memorial Day weekend. 1994.

Then-Lt. Knutson was on call.

"I got called out to a death investigation."

A man's remains were found a mile south of Prairie du Chien at the shore of Indian Isle in the Mississippi River.

"Home to maybe 15-20 residences at the most... "

A seasonal cabin dweller made the discovery after going to investigate a suspicious odor. The clothing and a wallet found nearby indicated the remains were those of Brian Dietrich.

"Well, I referred to him as Rambo," Bonnie Dietrich says.

Dietrich lived across the state line in Clayton County Iowa. He was the son of the local sheriff. He was known for his biker lifestyle....

"lived off of the land... "

...and he was a new father to a baby girl.

"October 30th was a very frigid night... He was going to take his little girl out trick or treating," his mother says.

But back in October of 1993, Dietrich never returned home from a regular trip across the river to Prairie du Chien.

"He'd came to town to sell ginseng."

Special investigator Knutson says in the evening, Dietrich, his girlfriend and her brothers were hanging out at a downtown bar... at the time called, The Schooner Bar.

"At some point in time, there was a disagreement," Knutson says, "There was a scuffle ... Brian was struck once by one of the brothers."

This is where the mystery of what happened to Brian Dietrich begins - at this bridge leading out of Prairie du Chien. He was last seen walking toward it, headed home.

"What we know is what the people with him have told us that night."

But Knutson believes people know more.

"If you had to put it on a scale of zero to ten, it'd be a ten."

Investigators say Dietrich's girlfriend reported him missing several days later, insisting he was in the river.

"All indications are Brian didn't jump into the river voluntarily. There was just nothing that ever said he was suicidal."

It would take until May of the following year for Dietrich's body to turn up... entangled in the roots of Indian Isle.

"I just keep pursuing it... whenever something pops up..."

Dietrich's mother refuses to give up hope.

"I want to find out... I won't settle 'til it's done," she says, "I'm not gonna settle for someone getting away with it."

...for the sake of their granddaughter.

"His daughter looks like him very much, she says, "It's like having him there."

...for the sake of justice.

"Hopefully people just start coming forward."

In ten days, it will mark 15 years since Dietrich's body was found.

Now, Wisconsin's Department of Justice is taking a fresh look at this case. If you have any information, contact the Crawford County Sheriff's Office or crime stoppers.

Crawford Co. Sheriff's Office
Crime Stoppers
Toll Free: 866-779-7297


Elucreh said...

"...He was the son of a local sheriff."

monique777 said...

I noticed that too so had to post it under the police theory. There are several now that are sons of LE. I wonder how many are the only son in the family. (Usernan had brought it up.)

paul said...

I think the timeline on this is a little off. He had to have been found in 1994.

Lacey said...

Could it be someone whose child was killed (accidently or as an officer involved shooting) by police and he is now killing sons of police officers as revenge? This person can't go after the cops that he believes are responsible, so he goes after the sons of other officers? The fact that so many are children of law enforcement professionals does not seem coincedental.

I do not believe that all of the deaths are related to one another. I think some are truly accidental drownings, some are suicides, and the rest are suspicious and need a conserted effort on the part of law enforcement and a concerned and vigilant public to find the killer or killers of these young men.

miki said...

They just pulled another body from the Mississippi River in Minneapolis this weekend. No identification yet.

Is that four or five water-related deaths in the Twin Cities over the past six weeks, including that poor boy in the golf course.

monique777 said...

It will be interesting to see how this case turns out.

I'm wondering what really prompted them to re-open this case.

Is it because so many men have drowned under similiar circumstances and now the man's father wants to look at it more closely?

Lacey, check out the LE theory in the cloud at upper left side of page. We discuss the link to LE. It does appear there is more than a coincidence.

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