Feds investigate double deaths of children on ND reservation

Federal and tribal officials are investigating what neighbors say is the homicide of two young children in St. Michael, N.D., on the Spirit Lake Indian Reservation.

Travis DuBois
Travis DuBois

Federal and tribal officials are investigating what neighbors say is the homicide of two young children in St. Michael, N.D., on the Spirit Lake Indian Reservation.

On Monday, U.S. Attorney Timothy Purdon, the top federal prosecutor for North Dakota who handles felonies on Indian reservations, would say only that there is "an active investigation by the FBI and the BIA." But he said he could not confirm any details of what is being investigated.

The FBI office in Minneapolis echoed Purdon, saying it could not comment about an active investigation.

Tribal police in Fort Totten, N.D., referred all questions to Purdon's office.

Sources say two children of Travis DuBois were found Saturday by their mother, slain in their home in St. Michael. DuBois, 41, was arrested Saturday and is in the Lake Region jail in Devils Lake.


A jail official referred all questions about him to Purdon's office.

Pam Baker, who lives near the children's home, said the mother's name is Mena Shaw, 40, and the father is Travis DuBois. He has worked for the tribal fire department, according to tribal members in St. Michael who know him.

The children were found dead Saturday night in their home, Baker said, and investigators spent that night at the home.

A member of the extended family said Shaw and DuBois had four children, ages 2 to 9.

The couple had separated recently and Shaw had taken their two-year-old child and moved in with her parents nearby. Meanwhile, DuBois lived in their home with the three other children, said the relative who has knowledge of what happened, but asked to not be identified.

On about Thursday, DuBois reported the two older children -- a girl, 9, and a boy, 7 -- missing, and family members and friends searched the area for the children for several days, the relative said.

On Saturday, Shaw finally went to the home where she and DuBois had lived and immediately could tell something was wrong, said the relative.

Shaw found the bodies of the girl and boy under a mattress, and it was obvious they had been dead for several days. They had been killed, apparently, with a knife or some other sharp, bladed weapon, said the relative.


The younger boy, 4, was unharmed and still in the house, the relative said.

DuBois was arrested nearby once the FBI and tribal police responded to the scene Saturday afternoon or evening.

Marie Baker, mother of Pam Baker, said the Rev. Brian Moen, priest of St. Michael's Catholic Indian Mission in St. Michael, mentioned the two children's deaths during Mass on Sunday morning.

Tribal elders, during a regular monthly meeting Monday, said special prayers for the children and the family, said the relative.

The relative, and most of Shaw's family are members of the Spirit Lake tribe. DuBois is not a member of the Spirit Lake Sioux tribe, but may be enrolled with the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewas in Belcourt, N.D., said the relative of Shaw.

Patricia Walking Eagle, principal of the elementary school in nearby Fort Totten, said she had no comment.

"I feel so bad and all shook up," said Marie Baker, who said her grandchildren played with the slain children. "It's a shock."

That's the widespread reaction in the close-knit community across the reservation which has been traumatized by the horrible news, said the relative.


"People are just in shock right now," said the relative. "They can't even understand how this happened. They are trying to process it, why someone in their right mind would do this to two little kids."

Neither DuBois nor Shaw had serious criminal histories, but did have drug- or alcohol-related misdemeanors, in North Dakota courts.

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