Volunteers slowly made their way through a clearing in dense woodland Saturday searching for clues in the Becky Jo Look case. (Enterprise Photo by Anna Jauhola)
By Anna Jauhola
Volunteers gathered at a rural Halma property Saturday to search a wooded area after the Kittson County Sheriff’s Department received a tip last week regarding the disappearance of Becky Jo Look.
Sheriff Steve Porter said a man called him on Sept. 26 and said he saw suspicious activity on the property in the same time frame as Look’s disappearance.
“He drove out to visit a friend on that dead-end road a couple of weeks before deer season,” Porter said. “He saw headlights in the field and said when the people saw him, they shut off the headlights and hid.”
Although this event could have been anything, after the witness read about the reopened Look case in the paper, he felt compelled to report what he saw.
Look was dating and living with Halma resident Todd Spilde when she disappeared in 1995. She wasn’t reported missing until four months after and the case went cold. Porter reopened the case earlier this year, which has garnered his department numerous tips, the most recent of which led them to the former property of Leroy Syverson, stepfather of Chris Nelson.
Nelson was the one who reportedly told his mother he had helped bury a woman’s body “out on dad’s farm,” Porter said. That statement originally led them to Nelson’s biological father’s former property in Marshall County. “But that statement could have meant stepdad, and not dad,” Porter added.
“Why am I releasing Chris’s name now? I need people to think back to him and statements he made,” Porter said. “If they have anything, please, bring it to us. We want to solve this case.”
Nelson often hung around Spilde, Porter said, and many knew that Nelson lived with Syverson. Nelson died in 1999 after being stabbed in Halma.
Although Porter had wanted to search the former Syverson property for some time, the witness’s information pushed the matter forward. He gained permission from the current landowner for the search and organized it within a few days.
On Friday, the sheriff’s office with help from the county highway department began digging up rock piles in the grass field. Saturday brought more digging, but also the painstaking foot search through dense woodland where deputies and volunteers marked several spots for further investigation.
The volunteers later went to the 17 acres where Look and Spilde lived and conducted a foot search.
The searches thus far have not yielded anything of value, Porter said, but they have more digging to do.
“There’s a lot more work to be done,” he added. “I want to reiterate, if Chris told his mom, he probably told somebody else. If people who knew Chris, hung around with Chris, we’re hoping this will bring people forward.”