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Grandin man accused of setting fire to farmhouse to impress woman

By Emily Welker / The Forum

FARGO – Fredrick Bohjanen Jr. of Grandin is charged with arson and several other felonies after a Cass County Sheriff’s Department investigation into a string of car battery thefts led them to witnesses who said Bohjanen burned down a rural farmhouse in order to impress a woman.

According to court documents filed Thursday in Cass County District Court, Cass County deputies responded about 9:40 a.m. Oct. 8 to a call about a stolen tractor battery from a farm in Erie owned by Robert Kyser.

Similar incidents had been reported in the area over the past few days, a Sheriff’s Department report says.

Kyser told deputies he saw Bohjanen loading batteries into a truck at his home with his father.

The elder Bohjanen told deputies his son told him the batteries were given to him.

Fred Bohjanen Sr. said he was planning to sell the batteries to recoup some of the money he recently spent on bailing his son out of jail.

Nine of the 25 batteries in the back of the elder Bohjanen’s truck matched the description of the stolen ones, the report says.

Later that day, police executed a search warrant at 210 Main Ave. in Erie, the home of Daniel Hengst, and found what appeared to be a small marijuana grow operation.

A witness, Amanda Hengst, who had recently lived at the house, told deputies that Bohjanen Jr. and Daniel Hengst had set up the grow operation over the past four to five months.

She also told deputies that Hengst and Bohjanen possessed the batteries, which she had recently learned were stolen.

In another interview, Daniel Hengst allegedly told deputies he helped Bohjanen Jr. hide the stolen batteries.

Bohjanen Jr. was planning to sell the batteries to buy marijuana, Hengst said.

Hengst also told deputies he was with Bohjanen Jr. and two women at a farmhouse in Erie when one of the women began asking Bohjanen Jr. to burn down a house.

They went to another farmhouse northwest of Erie, Hengst said, and Bohjanen Jr. set a sheet on fire.

When the home was ablaze, the group drove about a mile away to watch it burn, Hengst said.

Bohjanen Jr. set the sheet on fire in order to impress one of the women, Hengst said.

The four were drinking at the time, Hengst told deputies.

One of the women, Amber Dewald, corroborated Hengst’s story and said Bohjanen Jr. wanted to set the house on fire because it was falling apart.

She said she told Bohjanen Jr. not to set the fire.

Bohjanen Jr., who was being held in the Cass County Jail, refused to be interviewed by deputies and asked instead to speak with his attorney, the report says.

Bohjanen Jr., 26, was charged Thursday with one count of arson and one count of manufacturing marijuana, both Class B felonies, and one count of theft, a Class C felony.

He was also charged with one count of possession of drug paraphernalia, a Class A misdemeanor.

His first court appearance has not been set.

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