Early law enforcement, media reports that seemingly linked recent murder to Pelican Rapids was source of frustration–fueling an unfair perception of local ‘crime rate’

A recent murder and subsequent arrest was disturbing on numerous fronts–including the Pelican Rapids community.

Initial law enforcement and media reports, which unfolded the weekend of Sept. 22-23, placed the scene of the crime near Pelican Rapids.

Linking Pelican to the crime was a source of irritation–from the mayor’s office to the police department to the main street business community to the average citizen.

Later reports listed a rural Detroit Lakes man as being charged with second-degree murder in the death of his roommate, who was shot in the chest and buried in a pit at their residence on the 27000 block of Holbrook Road.

But earlier reports indicated the crime was “north of Pelican Rapids.”

The high profile crime followed a July 2018 abduction and rape, which also received widespread media coverage–including a car chase from Pelican Rapids to the Erhard area.

With these “back to back” crimes in the Pelican area, numerous locals contacted the Pelican Rapids Press about the unfortunate distinction of the community earning a somewhat unfair distinction of appearing to be a “high crime” area. Mayor Brent Frazier was among those commenting–and he noted that there were no real connections to the crime and the city of Pelican Rapids, or the Pelican area.

The crime scene was northeast of the community, at the Otter Tail and Becker county line. The location is closer to Detroit Lakes than Pelican.

“We’re dealing with an unfair perception of the community,” commented one local official, who asked not to be identified.

Suggestions that Pelican Rapids has a high crime rate is “extremely exaggerated,” said the official. In fact, in terms of law enforcement call counts, the city is generally lower than many other communities and areas within Otter Tail County.

Without a detailed, call-by-call analysis on a county-wide basis, it is difficult to measure and compare law enforcement activity and crime in specific areas.

But by observation and media reports, it seems quite evident that Pelican Rapids is no higher in theft, burglary, vandalism and violent crime incidents than any other jurisdiction. And, in reality, Pelican is appears lower in general incident reports, be it crime, medical, accidents and other incidents.

Especially when you consider the town’s day-to-day activity: A well-traveled position on Highway 59, a U.S. Highway; its location as a high traffic “crossroads” to lake and recreation areas; a K-12 school district with lots of activity; a large industrial employer of more than 600 (West Central Turkeys); substantial senior and medical services operations (Pelican Valley Senior Living); and a diverse population and demographic, not only residents, but transient, “pass through” motorists and visitors.

We’re not pointing fingers at law enforcement agencies or other media. We understand full well how information is gathered and disseminated in a rapidly changing situation and under deadline circumstances.

But–to set the record straight on the recent murder case, following is a summary of sheriff’s department and media reports on the incident and investigation in the in the Holbrook lake area–south of Lake Melissa.

Jordan Jerome Dalman, suspect in area murder case, investigation

Jordan Jerome Dalman, 25, (Detroit Lakes address) appeared in Otter Tail County District Court Monday, where cash bail or bond was set at $750,000, with conditions, or bond at $1 million without standard conditions of release.

Law enforcement first became aware of the death of the roommate, Dylan Butler, 28, when Dalman’s parents, Jerome and Rosalie Dalman of rural Vergas, walked into the Otter Tail County Sheriff’s Office at 3:30 p.m. Sept. 21, reporting that their son had been involved in an incident.

A deputy who met with the Dalmans, and with Jordan Dalman, at the law enforcement center in Fergus Falls, allegedly learned there had been some sort of altercation at the Holbrook Road residence and that someone was dead.

Officers went to the residence and found numerous guns were in the house.

Dalman allegedly told them to follow the tracks behind the barn, and that led them to a pit in which a black pickup truck could be seen, partially buried under debris.

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension was called in to assist with the crime scene. Law enforcement officers secured the scene for the night.

Arrangements were made for heavy equipment to come the next day to help excavate the pit.

They found bags of clothing, along with paperwork in Butler’s name, and firearms. In mid-afternoon, Butler’s body was found 10 feet deep in the pit, covered in dirt, debris and tree branches.

Officers observed gunshot wounds to the chest and exit wounds to the back. His billfold with identification was found in his pocket. Arrangements were made for an autopsy.

The older Dalmans stated that the relationship between the two roommates was sometimes strained, according to the investigative report.

The two men met at a gunsmith school in Denver, and after graduating they decided to become roommates and moved to the Holbrook Road residence in May. Butler had formerly lived in Oklahoma and Colorado.

Human blood was reportedly found in a fish house-camper on the north side of the house.

Nothing in the criminal complaint gives any reason for the shooting or details about events that may have led to the shooting.

Otter Tail County District Judge Kevin Miller set an omnibus hearing for 9 a.m. Nov. 19.

Dalman is being held in the Otter Tail County Jail on a $1 million bond.