ND couple death declared murder-suicide: Family and friends shocked by violent tragedy, see drug addiction as a factor
ALEXANDRIA, Minn. — Less than two weeks before a Fargo couple left behind three children in a murder-suicide near Alexandria on Monday, they were arrested by West Fargo police after reporting a meth-fueled hallucination.
Family and friends say they are shocked at the violent incident Monday, and that the couple’s drug addiction likely played a part in the uncharacteristic events that led to their death.
The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension said Devin Blowers, 24, of Minot, shot and killed Katie Ray Christopherson, 29, before killing himself Monday after a Douglas County sheriff’s deputy checked on their vehicle, and Blowers shot him in the chest. The deputy was saved by wearing a bullet-proof vest.
The BCA has not released a motive for the incident, which came after the couple were arrested Feb. 11 at a West Fargo apartment building. They lost custody of their still-hospitalized newborn baby after the arrest.
Christopherson called police Feb. 11 to report “black males pointing guns at the building” they were in, police reports said.
When officers arrived shortly after midnight, they found no men on foot or in a van as Blowers described at the scene. Officers spoke to Blowers and determined he was likely under the influence of methamphetamine because he looked “amped” up, had rapid movements and had “extremely dilated pupils, the report said.
Blowers later admitted to police he had used meth earlier that evening and was high. Blowers said he wasn’t sure if he actually saw men outside and eventually told officers that his meth high probably made him think people were outside with guns.
Officers found Christopherson hiding in a laundry room. When they searched her purse, they found a small scale that had meth residue on it, the report said.
Christopherson told officers she had the scale to “weigh something for her daughter,” the report said.
In a statement a sibling of Christopherson released Thursday to WDAY-TV, the family member said Christopherson and Blowers were a “wonderful woman and a kind man that found themselves stuck in the cycle of addiction
“Our family sends our thoughts and prayers to the officer that was shot, and are thankful he was wearing a bullet-proof vest,” the family member said in the statement. “Devin is being made to be a monster, when in fact, the only monster is addiction … it is truly to blame, even if it is impossible to wrap your mind around it.”
The couple have a 1-month-old daughter, Bennie, who has been in the neonatal intensive care unit of Essentia Health in Fargo since Jan. 13, when she was born several weeks early.
Blowers has a 3-year-old daughter who lives in Minot with her mother, and Christopherson has a 6-year-old son, according to a birth announcement published in The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead.
Friends and family of the couple are devastated by the news, including Ashley Erikson of Minot, who was Blowers’ high school sweetheart and mother of his 3-year-old daughter, Shylee.
“(Devin) was the sweetest man,” Erickson said in a phone interview Thursday from Minot. “He was the biggest-hearted kind of guy. He had a smile that would light up the room and he would give you anything.”
Erickson said Blowers, who worked construction, was on a downhill swing after meeting Christopherson last year. Blowers came to Fargo for drug treatment and met Christopherson, a Fargo native.
Christopherson faced drug charges in 2010 after obtaining drugs from Sanford Medical Center by using her sister’s name, court documents say.
When police questioned her motive she said, “I’m a drug addict.”
Erickson said Blowers was released from the Cass County Jail on Feb. 20 after spending about a week in jail for the first time in his life. Blowers has no serious criminal history, according to North Dakota court records.
Blowers was arrested at the scene Feb. 11 on suspicion of ingesting a controlled substance. Christopherson was taken to an emergency room after telling officers she ingested “some pills” and later arrested and charged with felony possession of paraphernalia.
Police contacted Cass County Human Services about the couple’s baby who was still in the hospital, according to police reports.
Christopherson and Blowers were told the baby would not be allowed to come home with them and became distraught, Erickson said.
Blowers pleaded guilty last week in Cass County District Court to a Class A misdemeanor charge of ingesting a controlled substance. He was ordered to serve one year of unsupervised probation and undergo a chemical dependency evaluation.
A felony possession charge was filed against Christopherson on Monday in Cass County District Court. A warrant for her arrest was filed Wednesday, but on Thursday, a motion to dismiss the case was filed.
On Monday, Douglas County Sheriff’s Deputy Dustin Alexander stopped near a rural farm site to check on a suspicious vehicle and found Christopherson and Blowers. Alexander checked their ID and was returning from his squad when Blowers shot him in the chest.
Alexander was wearing a bullet-proof vest and was not seriously hurt.
The couple tried to flee, but their car got stuck in the snow just yards from the scene. Their bodies were found about four hours later.
Erickson, who has known Blowers for at least 10 years, said she believes the couple were trying to make it to a St. Paul family treatment center to seek help for their drug addiction. She said the deputy’s visit probably scared the two and they reacted poorly. Blowers was not a violent person, she said.
Michael Kaspari, registered nurse and agency director at First Step Recovery in Fargo, said symptoms of methamphetamine use can cause users to act out of character.
“When a person has been binging on methamphetamine but is in the coming down phase, they are incredibly irritable, prone to mood swings, bursts of anger, all sorts of things like that that,” Kaspari said. “It’s behavior that a person normally wouldn’t engage in. (An addict’s behavior) will be a surprise. The person is acting very different than what (family) knows.”
Jeff Blowers of Minot wants to adopt his son’s baby, Bennie, who remains at Essentia Health on a “medical hold,” Erickson said.
Cass County Human Services will not comment on specific cases, but has said it tries to place children with relatives whenever possible and would not rule out a grandparent adoption.
Erickson, who remains close to Blowers’ family and was in regular contact with Blowers before his death, said she hopes the orphan baby will be adopted by Blowers’ family. She would allow her daughter and Bennie, the two half-sisters, to see each other often and learn that their father was a “good dad” who loved them both.
“He was the sweetest man,” Erickson said. “He loved Harleys. He loved to ride. He was a very good, hard-working man. Then he (got into drugs).”