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Investigator says Valley City State student strangled and stabbed
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Investigator says Valley City State student strangled and stabbed

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VALLEY CITY, N.D. (AP) - Valley City State University student Mindy Morgenstern died of strangulation and a deep cut to her neck, and DNA from Moe Maurice Gibbs matched DNA under her fingernails, an investigator said Thursday.

"There was no one else's DNA found at the scene that we're aware of," Bureau of Criminal Investigation agent Mark Sayler said.

Sayler was the first witness at a preliminary hearing for Gibbs, a former Barnes County jailer charged with killing Morgenstern last month. Thursday's hearing was to determine whether authorities have enough evidence to try Gibbs on a murder charge.

Gibbs' attorney, Jeff Bredahl, repeatedly asked Sayler about other potential suspects in the case and about a call reporting that someone else had confessed.

"Are you going to follow up on that?" Bredahl asked Sayler several times.

Sayler said the investigation is still open.

Morgenstern, 22, of New Salem, was found dead in her off-campus apartment Sept. 13. Gibbs lived in the same apartment building.

Sayler said Thursday that a cloth belt was wrapped around Morgenstern's neck, and her neck was cut above the belt. She died of strangulation and the cut to her neck, he said.

Sayler said there were no signs of forced entry to her apartment. He said Gibbs had deep scratches on his hands, including a gouge on his left hand.

Gibbs told authorities he cut his hands packing or moving boxes out of his apartment, but he could not explain the DNA match, Sayler said.

Sayler said cleaning fluid was poured on Morgenstern's body. He said two knives found at the scene, one propped up on her neck.

Under questioning by Bredahl, Sayler said 13 people were considered people "of interest" in the case.

Sayler said Morgenstern may have died between 12:23 and 12:47 p.m., on Sept. 13, based on her computer use and cell phone calls. Under cross-examination, he said he could not be sure of the exact time of her death.

Sayler said Gibbs' wife told authorities he had his 1-year-old stepdaughter with him during lunch time that day. Bredahl asked Sayler if he could have killed Morgenstern "with his daughter in his hands."

Bredahl also asked Sayler about a report from a delivery man who saw two men running out of the apartment building on the day Morgenstern was killed. Sayler said authorities looked for them but could not find them.

Gibbs showed no emotion in court, sitting with his hands cuffed in front of him. The Valley City courtroom was packed, with a number of people standing.

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