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BCA says prosecutor, lawyer wife die in apparent murder-suicide in Fergus Falls

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A Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension vehicle was parked at a Fergus Falls home Thursday morning, Dec. 7. Special to Forum News Service2 / 5
A Fergus Falls Police Department vehicle was parked at a Fergus Falls home Thursday morning, Dec. 7. Special to Forum News Service3 / 5
A Fergus Falls Police Department vehicle was parked at a Fergus Falls home Thursday morning, Dec. 7. Special to Forum News Service4 / 5
This photo of Ryan and Sarah Cheshire was obtained from Ryan Cheshire's Facebook page. Special to The Forum News Service5 / 5

FERGUS FALLS, Minn. – The bodies of two recently divorced attorneys were discovered in an apartment in Fergus Falls late Wednesday, Dec. 6, following what authorities say was a homicide and a suicide.

A preliminary investigation shows Ryan Christopher Cheshire, an Otter Tail County prosecutor, fatally shot attorney Sarah Ruth Cheshire and then fatally shot himself, according to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. The two were both 41 years old, the parents of three children and were living in separate Fergus Falls residences.

Shortly after 11 p.m. Wednesday, Fergus Falls police responded to a 911 call from friends of Sarah Cheshire about a person not breathing at Ryan Cheshire’s apartment, a building on the campus of the former Fergus Falls Regional Treatment Center, the bureau said.

When officers arrived, they found Sarah Cheshire and Ryan Cheshire dead inside the apartment, according to the bureau.

Investigators are not looking for any other individuals involved, and there is not a risk to the public, Fergus Falls police said. The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is helping with the investigation.

The couple had resided in Fergus Falls for 11 years.

Sarah Cheshire was an attorney and partner at Karkela, Hunt & Cheshire in Fergus Falls.

Paul Hunt, a partner in the firm, said those at the firm were very saddened by news of Sarah Cheshire’s death and troubled by what they have heard regarding the possible circumstances of her death.

The law firm’s website said Sarah Cheshire worked in the firm's Fergus Falls and Perham offices. She worked with the Minnesota Judicial Branch for 10 years prior to joining the firm in 2013. She also served as legal advisor for the Fergus Falls Hockey Association.

Sarah Cheshire is the daughter of longtime Bottineau, N.D.,  attorney Swain Benson and his wife Kathy, and a sister to Bottineau County (N.D.) District Court Judge Anthony Benson.

Ryan Cheshire was an assistant Otter Tail County attorney. A call to the Otter Tail County Attorney’s Office seeking comment was not returned Thursday.

Ryan Cheshire’s father, Bob Cheshire, was a U.S. marshal who was killed in the line of duty in 1983 when federal officers tried to arrest Gordon Kahl, an anti-government protester, near Medina, N.D., when Ryan Cheshire was 6.

Ten years later, when Cheshire was 16, his younger brother by one year was killed when he and friends accepted a ride after a high school football game. The driver, who had been drinking, got into a crash that killed Cheshire’s brother.

In a 2006 Fargo-Moorhead newspaper story, Ryan Cheshire said after his brother’s death, he set his sights on a career in law enforcement.

“I’ve been blessed,” he said. “In a lot of ways, it helped me. It gave me a new motivation to go forward and to help to do what’s right.”

Sarah Cheshire’s uncle, Brad Benson of Bismarck, N.D., said the incident appeared to be a sad conclusion to a relationship family members had worried about for years, with Sarah Cheshire having been the focus of what Benson described as a controlling and abusive partner.