New York Mills murder/suicide investigation nears its end
By Zach Kayser / Wadena Pioneer Journal
The Otter Tail County Sheriff's Office released an investigative report Wednesday on the shooting that took place in rural New York Mills July 31, with witness names censored in the interest of their safety. Administrative Lieutenant Matthew McGuire of the OTCSO said Thursday that the sheriff's office was still waiting on a final report from the medical examiner's office before they could close the case completely.
Authorities believe Jacob Geiser, 23, fatally shot his ex-girlfriend's current boyfriend Ethan Honer, 20, when Honer, the girlfriend and a relative of the girlfriend went to Geiser's residence to deal with two dogs she had left behind when she moved out. Geiser then shot himself and died the next day in St. Cloud Hospital.
According to the report, the girlfriend told police she had been in a relationship with Geiser for three years starting in July of 2010, but the couple had broken up and gotten back together numerous times during that period. She said she had moved into the residence on County Highway 56 with Geiser in July of 2012 but moved out in June of this year following a breakup. She had left a substantial amount of property at Geiser's home, including two dogs. She said Geiser called her numerous times over a weekend prior to the shooting, asking her to come pick them up.
She said on the night of the shooting July 31, she asked Geiser by phone for permission to come get the dogs, and he agreed, saying he would leave his house so that he wouldn't be there when she came. However, when the girlfriend, a male cousin of hers and Honer got in Honer's truck and went to Geiser's home, they found Geiser's truck and motorcycle parked outside. Arriving at about 9 p.m., they parked their truck near the southeast corner of the trailer home alongside several dog kennels and began loading one of the girlfriend's dogs into the back of Honer's truck.
Honer was in his truck bed attempting to secure the dog when a shot rang out and she saw him slump over, she said. At first, she thought Honer was merely crouching down in the bed to avoid any further gunfire. She said she turned and saw Geiser near the sliding glass doors on the east side of the trailer home, holding a semiautomatic handgun. She said she thought Geiser had fired the gun into the air to scare them, and that Honer was simply concealing himself from Geiser. It was only after Geiser shot himself and she went to check on Honer after calling 911 that she realized Honer had been hit and wasn't breathing, she said. Not knowing what to do, she simply stood by the truck and waited for authorities to arrive after calling 911, she said.
The girlfriend's male cousin was also interviewed by authorities, and told them he came along with Honer and the girlfriend because there were two of the girlfriend's dogs at Geiser's residence, and they planned to take one and destroy the other. Since neither Honer nor the girlfriend felt they were capable of killing the dog, they asked the cousin to do it because he worked at at local locker plant and they supposed he had experience with killing animals, he said.
Authorities later recovered a .22 caliber semiautomatic Beretta handgun in a case inside of Honer's truck, which the cousin said was brought along specifically to shoot the dog and was not intended to be used against Geiser. Honer's girlfriend also said the gun was never taken out of its case during the incident. Authorities found the gun to have a loaded magazine but no round chambered.
The cousin said that as he, Honer and the girlfriend were driving to Geiser's home he tried to convince them to turn back, as he thought it would be emotionally painful for Geiser to see his ex-girlfriend with Honer. He said he didn't want Geiser to see him at Geiser's residence with Honer and the girlfriend. At first he stayed hunched down low in the truck's cab, and when he got out of the truck, he stayed on the side of the vehicle that was opposite to the house, thinking the tinted glass and large cab would conceal him in case Geiser were to look in his direction while they were getting the dog.
The cousin said when he heard the first gunshot, he turned and saw Honer slump over in the truck bed, and like the girlfriend the cousin assumed that Honer was simply taking cover. He said he saw Geiser standing near the rear of Honer's truck with the gun in his hand. The cousin said he came towards Geiser and attempted to get him to calm down, but Geiser began to walk backwards away from him. The two eventually went past the entire length of the trailer home, the report said.
The cousin said he then saw Geiser put the gun to his own head and pull the trigger, but the weapon merely clicked without going off. When the cousin saw this, he attempted to close the gap between him and Geiser so he could restrain him from trying again. He saw Geiser attempt to pull the weapon's slide back but Geiser's hand slipped. Geiser tried to pull the slide back again, and this time the cousin heard the weapon click. He then stopped just short of Geiser-- "in very close proximity", the report said-- because he thought Geiser's gun was now ready to fire. Geiser then raised the gun to the right side of his head and pulled the trigger, he said. This time the gun went off, and Geiser collapsed, he said.
The cousin called 911 but was too distraught to give information to the dispatcher, he said. When he saw the girlfriend was also on the phone with 911 he hung up on his phone, he said. He then checked Honer for a pulse and, finding none, waited for authorities to arrive.
Authorities recovered a Smith and Wesson model M & P .22 caliber semiautomatic pistol from Geiser at the scene.
Police also interviewed a man who was with Geiser earlier in the day but did not witness the shooting. He said he met with Geiser at a local bar/restaurant at about 5:30 p.m., they each had one beer with dinner, and then they left at about 7:30 p.m. The man said Geiser had apparently been drinking at the bar/restaurant beforehand but did not appear to be extremely drunk.
"(Censored) stated it was obvious that Geiser had been drinking and did appear to be somewhat intoxicated, however; (he) stated that he did not think Geiser had drank too much as his bar tab was only $11," the report said.
According to the report, the girlfriend told authorities that she and Geiser had often gotten into verbal fights but that he had never been violent towards her. However, she did say that she had gotten two texts from him after the breakup that made her think he may have been suicidal. She had made attempts to get him help, she said. At one point, she went to Geiser's residence to try and take his guns, but Geiser refused to give them up, she said.Expl