Mandan, N.D. Police Deputy Chief Lori Flaten, left, and other law enforcement personnel stand outside the scene on the south side the RJR Maintenance and Management property in Mandan, N.D., Monday, April 1, 2019. (Mike McCleary/The Bismarck Tribune via AP)
MANDAN, N.D. – Police responding to a medical call at a North Dakota property-management business on Monday found “several” bodies, authorities said.
The Mandan Police Department issued a three-sentence news release confirming that officers had found “several people who were deceased inside” the business in the city of about 22,000 just across the Missouri River west of Bismarck. Police did not say how many people were dead and did not immediately respond to requests for more details.
People with friends or loved ones who work at RJR Maintenance and Management gathered beyond a police line outside the property, anxious for news about those inside, as several hours passed without additional information.
Judy Praus, 70, said she was a longtime friend of the owner’s family and had just seen them at a restaurant Saturday. She said she also knew a lot of employees, and had no details on any of them.
“When I was notified, I shattered. Unbelievable,” she said.
Gina Kessel, 52, of Mandan, showed up at the business Monday to pick up her son, Mitchell Kessel, an employee there. She said Mitchell “called me, said something is going on.” She said he didn’t tell her what.
The pair hugged, with both of them crying. Her son declined comment before going back behind a police line.
A statement posted on the company’s website said the business was closed Monday. No one answered the phone at the business, which is somewhat isolated despite its location in a business district near a busy main road known as The Strip. A large empty lot sits in the front, a golf course in back and a soccer complex to one side.
The state Bureau of Criminal Investigation said it was helping with the investigation but did not offer any details.
Darin Helbling, a manager at a nearby bowling alley, said police asked to see his business’ surveillance video. Helbling said the video showed only a couple of vehicles on the road that separates the businesses since 10 p.m. Sunday.
RJR’s website identified it as a family-owned company that has been handling commercial and residential properties in Bismarck and Mandan for more than 20 years. Its services include collecting rent for landlords, paying mortgages, re-renting apartments, building and grounds maintenance, lawn care, and snow removal. It also rents out storage units.
A “Meet Our Team” feature on the website pictured 22 employees.
Natasha Towne said her brother, Adam Fuehrer, has worked at the business for about eight years. She said she didn’t know his status and was frustrated at the lack of news. She declined to talk further.