Neighbors placed a stuffed bear on the white picket fence surrounding the cottage-like home of the grandmother and three grandchildren who were murdered on Sunday, November 18, in New Town, North Dakota. (AP Photo/James MacPherson)

FBI Investigates Murder of Woman and her Three Grandchildren on Fort Berthold Indian Reservation

ICTMN Staff
11/20/12

On Sunday afternoon, Martha Johnson, 64, and three of her grandchildren were tragically murdered in New Town, North Dakota on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation, theAssociated Press reported.

FBI agents are investigating the murders of Johnson and Benjamin Schuster, 13, Julia Schuster, 10, and Luke Schuster, 6. A fourth grandchild, a 12-year-old boy, was in the home when an unidentified "person of interest" released gunfire, but he was unharmed and called 911, Mountrail County Sheriff Ken Halvorson told the AP. Johnson and her grandchildren were not tribal members, Halvorson said.

The "person of interest," an enrolled tribal member in his 20s, committed suicide within hours of the murders in Parshall, a reservation community about 20 miles from New Town. A deputy and a highway patrolman witnessed the man kill himself with a knife.

Until the investigation concludes, FBI spokesman Kyle Loven said he will not release the man's name or clarify the role he played, if any, in the four deaths.

Tex Hall, chairman of the Three Affiliated Tribes, called the murders the "worst tragedy" to occur on the reservation in his memory. "It's a terrible loss, especially when young kids are involved," he said. "It's a sad, sad day."

Yesterday the local elementary school cancelled classes, and the community scheduled a nighttime prayer vigil.

"She was a nice lady. She was always out in the yard working," said Megan Hale, 22, of Johnson. Hale lives across the street from the Johnsons' home. "It's very sad. It's unreal."

 

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