What we know: Investigation into human remains found on rural Clay County farmstead
HITTERDAL, Minn.—On Thursday, June 21, news broke that a search was underway at a farmstead in Hitterdal, Minn. for a missing person from southeastern North Dakota.
Four days later, on Monday, June 25, two people made their first court appearance related to that investigation.
Here is what we know so far:
- The Clay County Sheriff's Office learned June 15 that a Wahpeton man, identified in court papers only as "TY," had been missing since May 18 and was last seen with two people.
- On Wednesday, June 20, law enforcement officers begin searching the area around 25324 70th Ave. N. on a rural farmstead near Hitterdal, Minn. in connection with a missing person case out of Wahpeton, N.D.
- Multiple law enforcement agencies were involved in the investigation, including the Wahpeton Police Department, Clay County Sheriff's Department, Norman County Sheriff's Office and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.
- Two people, originally listed as "Jane Doe" and "John Doe" on the Clay County Jail roster, were booked into jail. Jane Doe was booked into the jail at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, and John Doe was booked the next morning at 2:51 a.m.
- On Friday, June 22, authorities released the name of the missing Wahpeton man, identified as 41-year-old Troy Edmund Yarbrough.
- On Friday, June 22, the Clay County Sheriff's Office said that Yarbrough was last seen in the company of Jason Jensen, 39, and Kayla Westcott, 34, and that investigators had detained Jensen and Westcott as persons of interest.
- On Friday, June 22, the Clay County Sheriff's Office said a search of the farmstead led to the discovery of what appeared to be human remains. The remains were sent to the Ramsey County Medical Examiner's Office in St. Paul for identification.
- An officer spoke with Westcott at the Hitterdal farmstead on June 15, where she incidcated that she didn't know who the officer was talking about, but then later said she hadn't seen TY in over a month. Jensen and Westcott then told another officer they hadn't seen TY in over a month and that he might be in Las Vegas.
- Wescott admitted to investigators that she and Jensen picked up TY in Wahpeton on May 18 and came to the Hitterdal farmstead. She said TY approached her in a large red shed on the farm on May 20 and he told her "it's either you or me."
- Wescott then told investigators that she and Jensen hit TY with a rake handle, then hit him with an ax. Westcott said she swung the ax but stopped before striking TY.
- Wescott told officers TY's body was left in the shed overnight, and that she and Jensen returned the next day to find TY still alive. Jensen then hit TY in the head with a cinder block, killing him, according to Wescott.
- Wescott told officers they tried to burn the body and bury it behind the house.
- A June 21 search of the farmstead by investigators yielded a bloody cinder block, blood splatter in the shed, a wooden handle with what appeared to be blood on it, and possible human remains in a garbage bag buried behind a garage.
- Jensen told investigators it was Wescott who killed TY with a cinder block and a stick.
- Jensen told investigators he helped dispose of the body, but denied taking part in the killing.
- On Monday, June 25, Wescott and Jensen had their first court appearance on charges of aiding and abetting murder.
- Jensen and Wescott are each being held on $2 million bail for unconditional release, or $1 million bail with conditions of release.
- Their next hearing is set for Friday, July 6 at 10 a.m.