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UPDATED: Sheriff: Bemidji man to be charged in double homicide case

ECKLES TOWNSHIP -- A 44-year-old Bemidji man likely will face charges in connection to a double homicide after authorities found the remains of two bodies in a fire pit, officials said Wednesday.

Although the Beltrami County Attorney’s Office has yet to file official charges related to the homicide, Darren L. Stebe has been in the county jail since Tuesday, Feb. 5, when he was arrested for violating his probation.

The Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office said Wednesday that Stebe allegedly contributed to the deaths of 39-year-old Adam Thorpe, of Maple Grove, Minn., and Jason McDonough, 41, whose last known address was in Superior, Wis.

Darren Stebe

County Attorney David Hanson said he couldn’t give a specific time when his office will file charges.  

“Investigators have been working to gather evidence, interview potential suspects and witnesses, and (establish) a motive and timeline of events leading up to the discovery of the human remains,” Beltrami County Sheriff Ernie Beitel said in the press release Wednesday.

The remains of Thorpe and McDonough were found in the fire pit of a property in the 6500 block of Highway 89 just west of Bemidji after investigators executed a search warrant Tuesday, Feb. 5, in connection to a missing person report.

The sheriff’s office received the missing person report Monday, Feb. 4, regarding Thorpe, who was driving to the Bemidji area from the Twin Cities. The caller was a family member who hadn’t heard from Thorpe since the week before. The missing person report also indicated Thorpe may have traveled with another person from the Duluth area.

The sheriff’s office located the car the two men reportedly drove in at the Palace Casino in Cass County. The vehicle then led them to Stebe and another person of interest, who has not been named, officials said.

Investigators secured a warrant for the home where Stebe and the second person of interest allegedly stayed. That’s when they found the remains of Thorpe and McDonough.

Although the sheriff’s office said the remains were found in a fire pit, it didn’t say what the actual condition of the remains were. However, they likely were either badly burned or otherwise damaged since investigators originally couldn’t definitively say they were human.

The remains were subsequently sent to the Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s Office for identification. The sheriff’s office said preliminary testing identified some of the remains as belonging to Thorpe. However, Beitel said they need further testing to confirm the other remains belong to McDonough.  

Jordan Shearer

Jordan Shearer covers crime and social issues for the Bemidji Pioneer. A Rochester native and Bemidji State grad, he previously spent several years in western Nebraska writing for the Keith County News. Follow him on Twitter @Jmanassa

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