There’s apparently secret police in North Dakota and that’s unfortunate.
It was revealed this week that law enforcement suspected a murder was committed in February in Ransom County, but they told the victim’s family not to talk about the case. As a result the death of William Galusha, 34, of Milnor, was considered a suicide. Even the minister at the funeral discussed how Galusha killed himself. The family didn’t say anything because the Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the Ransom County Sheriff's Department and prosecutor asked the family to remain silent. The family wanted to discuss the case publicly, but followed law enforcement’s dictates.
While Ransom County Sheriff Darren Benneweis admitted on Monday that foul play was suspected, he told the Forum News Service that "We don't run to the media all the time, every time we have something going on. We are spending the time investigating the case."
The Tribune Editorial Board believes law enforcement handled this case badly. We don’t expect law enforcement to reveal every detail about a case to the public, but to not acknowledge that a murder may have occurred and a possible killer is loose borders on malfeasance. Galusha’s family had to suffer in silence while misinformation about his death continued to circulate.
Barry Wedge, 42, who was Galusha’s roommate, was being investigated in the case. Wedge killed himself after a shootout with police in southern Missouri when police tried to stop him for drunken driving. Wedge had been interviewed by the Missouri officials about Galusha's death. On Monday, North Dakota law enforcement released information on Galusha’s death.
Benneweis said the investigation will continue and wasn’t apologetic about the secrecy surrounding the case. Galusha’s family said law enforcement indicated they didn’t want to make information public because they didn’t want to be overwhelmed with far-fetched tips.
The Tribune believes the public has the right to some basic information in cases like this. If it’s likely a murder occurred and the killer remains loose, the public needs to know. Law enforcement allowed false assumptions to circulate in public and for the victim’s family to suffer. The family could have gone public, but they were swayed by law enforcement not to say anything.
Last month when four bodies were discovered in Mandan on a Monday, police only said there wasn’t a threat to the public, releasing little information. On Thursday of that week they arrested a suspect in Washburn. The suspect had been loose for four days and the public had been left in the dark on how the four people died. When the suspect was captured his bond was set at $1 million because he was deemed a threat to the public. It’s not surprising that some people were disappointed by the lack of information.
Law enforcement needs to share some information when homicide is involved. The Tribune finds a blanket of secrecy unacceptable for the public. Galusha’s family had praise for the Ransom County Sheriff’s Department investigation, but they were hurt by the request to suffer in silence.
We realize that police work can be difficult, but keeping a possible murder secret to avoid being bothered by the public is wrong. Law enforcement needs to be willing to share some information, the public deserves it.