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'More shock than I really know': Victim's fiance reeling after Fargo homicide

FARGO -- Cory Terlecky and Ward Henderson were on a break. Their relationship had recently been on-again, off-again. But even when taking a break, the two still kept in touch, still spent time together. And Cory was still the woman Ward wanted to...

Ward Henderson's fiance Cory Terlecky was found dead in her south Fargo home on Sunday evening. Police have identified a person of interest in her case.Dave Wallis / The Forum
Ward Henderson's fiance Cory Terlecky was found dead in her south Fargo home on Sunday evening. Police have identified a person of interest in her case.(Photo by Dave Wallis / Forum News Service)

FARGO -- Cory Terlecky and Ward Henderson were on a break.

Their relationship had recently been on-again, off-again. But even when taking a break, the two still kept in touch, still spent time together.

And Cory was still the woman Ward wanted to marry.

"She was just a vibrant, bubbly gal," he said. "Whatever we wanted to do, we could just go do."

On a recent Sunday afternoon, they had plans to get something to eat. Henderson waited for Terlecky's call, but he never heard from her.

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He later learned the news: She had been found dead that evening, the victim of a homicide in her south Fargo townhome.

"I'm just overwhelmed," he said. "I can't even explain what I'm going through. I mean, there's no way."

Henderson, 45, said he met Terlecky, 40, a decade ago at Osgood Golf Course where she worked as a waitress. "I was playing golf, and she came over to a friend of ours, a mutual friend that we always hang out with, and we just kind of started dating after that," he said.

Terlecky, who most recently worked at Mexican Village as a server, had a love of life and an outgoing personality that attracted Henderson. "She worked in the industry of seeing people and waiting on people every day, so she could talk to anybody," he said.

Henderson said he and Terlecky got engaged about three years ago. Though, they never set a wedding date. "Whenever the time was right was when it was going to happen, you know?"

A few months ago, Henderson moved out of Fargo to take a job on a farm near Bismarck. May 15, the day Terlecky was found dead, he was in Fargo to see his friends and to see her, he said.

After not hearing from her, Henderson was about to head home when he got a phone call informing him that she had died. "It's just more shock than I really know," he said.

Henderson said he went to Terlecky's home that evening and spoke with detectives who examined his phone and later returned it. "All I'm trying to do is help (police) figure this out," he said.

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When asked how Henderson figures into the investigation, Deputy Chief Joe Anderson, a Fargo police spokesman, declined to comment. Tara Dittmer, one of Terlecky's longtime friends, said she does not believe Henderson had anything to do with Terlecky's death.

"He's a good person," she said. "I wouldn't put him on my suspect list."

Fargo police have said they consider 22-year-old Landon Lauwagie to be a person of interest in the case. So far, he has not been charged in connection with the homicide.

While detectives suspect that Lauwagie and Terlecky knew each other, police have declined to discuss the nature of their relationship or say why Lauwagie is a person of interest. Police have said they are not disclosing Terlecky's specific cause of death to avoid jeopardizing their investigation.

The day after her body was discovered, Lauwagie was arrested in southern Minnesota and booked into the Sibley County Jail for violating his probation, which was imposed in January after a felony conviction for fleeing from police.

On Thursday, May 26, a judge ordered Lauwagie to spend 90 days in jail for violating his probation. Public defender Tiffany Doherty-Schooler, who represents Lauwagie in Sibley County, has not returned phone messages.

Henderson, who said he doesn't know Lauwagie, said his knowledge of the case is no greater than that of the general public.

"I really don't have any idea," he said. "The uncertainty of not knowing is hard."

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