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Question lingers in stabbing death of Badger man

Unless new evidence is discovered, the question of who fatally stabbed 23-year-old Matthew Sheppard will remain unanswered, Pennington County Attorney Alan Rogalla said Thursday.

"There's no clear evidence as to who stabbed him," Rogalla said.

The night of April 26, Sheppard was dropped off at a hospital in Thief River Falls with stab wounds and was pronounced dead a short time later. An autopsy revealed that his death was a homicide and that he died from a wound to his abdomen.

An investigation led authorities to interview Daniel Molstad, who acknowledged meeting Sheppard, Kyle Tangen and Bryan Johnson in Thief River Falls that night, according to a criminal complaint.

With the intention of robbing Molstad, the men drove him into the country, where they stopped, pulled him out of the vehicle and assaulted him, the complaint states.

Molstad, 20, told investigators Johnson and Tangen each had a knife and that he heard Johnson tell the others they should "kill him." Molstad pulled out his knife and started swinging it to defend himself, the complaint says.

Rogalla said Tangen reported that Johnson and Sheppard were the ones who assaulted Molstad.

During the fight, authorities believe Sheppard received the stab wound that killed him, Rogalla said. The men took marijuana from Molstad before leaving the scene, authorities said.

A woman who spoke to Sheppard, of Badger, Minn., before the incident said he told her that Molstad had ripped off him and others in a drug deal and that they planned to rob him, according to the complaint.

In December, a grand jury reviewed the case and did not return an indictment accusing Molstad of killing Sheppard. Rogalla said he currently does not plan to charge anyone in the fatal stabbing.

The grand jury did bring two felony drug charges against Molstad. He has pleaded guilty to both charges and is awaiting sentencing.

Tangen, 21, of Badger, pleaded guilty Thursday to aiding and abetting robbery. He's set to be sentenced March 10.

Johnson, 21, of Salol, Minn., has also pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting robbery but does not yet have a sentencing date.

A third man, Jaris Lane, reportedly hid in the trunk of the vehicle that carried Molstad and the other men to the site of the robbery. Lane rode in the trunk because the group "thought that Molstad may not get into it if there were too many people in the car," the complaint says.

Lane, 22, of Badger, told investigators he was let out of the trunk before the altercation but did not take part in it.

He has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit robbery and does not have a sentencing date set.