So What Happened?

White Earth is a reservation populated by the Ojibwe Tribe in northern Minnesota. A portion of those who live there are white and Chad Swedberg was one of those. White Earth is remote and wooded.  On the morning of April 13, 2007, here is some of what happened. Chad woke up early, and handled a few phone calls.  He was in a hurry to go work in the maple syrup stand in the woods behind his house. There is a multiple stream of conflicting stories of what else was going on. Over the next few weeks we will take a look at each statement and try to establish what happened. Just before 10 am that morning, Chad’s wife, Leslie Fain, would call 911 from a cell phone in front of her dead husband, lying on the ground by the maple stand. The 911 call was not the first call she had made. Leslie had called Ken Swedberg first, as he lived next door.  He was also at the maple stand and he was the one who told her to make the call. I will not refer to the maple stand as the murder site as that exact place Chad was shot was never established.

In a few minutes the EMT’s would arrive at the house and Ken Swedberg was waiting there to transport them on an ATV up the muddy trail to the maple stand. Once there, they determined he was dead, but could not say why. It took rolling Chad over and a close inspection before they saw two bullets that entered his back.

Police began to arrive and the muddy ground was trampled over and over. They stood by and watched as Ken Swedberg would transport his brother’s body in a Bobcat front end loader back to the house and into an ambulance. No suspects or clues were found that day. None.

The police were challenged to find out two things: what happened and why?

April 13, 2007

On the morning of April 13, 2007, at about 10 am, Chad Swedberg, a man in White Earth, Minnesota, was found dead in the woods behind his house. Below is a picture of the crime scene. Once you open the pdf, you can “right click” and rotate the picture clockwise. You can also zoom in and inspect the details.

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There are many accounts of what happened that morning. The following account is from one Joseph MacArthur, a police officer in White Earth.

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In these 5 pages, MacArthur says he got the dispatch call at 9:55 am and arrived at 37450 Little White Earth Lake Road at 1031 am. He was told that the victim was Chad Swedberg and was definitely dead. He was also told the call came from the person who found him, Leslie Fain, his wife. He soon saw Leslie drive up to the house in a truck and go in the house.

At this moment, the house had not been secured.  He then told the officers to secure the house. There is  no record as to what that order meant or if it was done. He was told the crime scene was already secured.  He reports the weather was warm and the ground was soft and muddy. Instead of going to the actual place the murder occurred, MacArthur decides to ride in Lisa Swedberg’s suv with Ken Swedberg, the brother of Chad, at the wheel. They drive on County Highway #34, and then over to Fish Hook Lake. They then drove over to CR #21 to North 374th to the intersection of 280th ave. They got out and walked around Fish Hook Lake.  He lets Ken smoke a cigarette on the trail not caring this is contaminating the scene.  They found no tracks or evidence at all.

During this time, possible witnesses and suspects were waiting at the White Earth RTC and getting upset over having to wait. MacArthur goes to interview them, after spending only a few minutes at the crime scene, where any possible clues were still in existence.  For the past hour, police and citizens have been plunging in the mud over and over on the trail on ATV’s and trucks. destroying the scene completely.

At the RTC, he interviews Ann Fain, and Thomas Covington. It is curious as to why he only talked to them at this very crucial time. He later talks to his brother, John MacArthur, who assures him he has talked to everyone except for Terry Andersen, It is reported that Brian Donner had heard gun shots early in the morning, but no time was given yet. MacArthur talks to Ken Swedberg again, but at the end of the day, no clues or suspects have emerged, which later will become a source of frustration to the police.