A Belgrade, Minn., killing remains unsolved almost 40 years later
The 1983 killing of Joseph "Scriver" Olson, 75, of Belgrade, remains an unsolved homicide. The investigation included an FBI profiler, who now has a Netflix show about him; a lawsuit was filed by a man who said he was tormented by law enforcement; and the Olson home burned down, twice.
BELGRADE , Minn. — It was 37 years ago on Feb. 18 when Ludvig Olson drove to his brother's home across from the Crow River Lutheran Church south of Belgrade to deliver some bad news about the death of a sister-in-law.
The news waiting for him there was far worse. His brother had been killed.
Authorities would later reveal that Joseph "Scriver" Olson , 75, had been brutally beaten and stabbed. His death certificate, which the West Central Tribune had trouble obtaining in 1983, lists exsanguination (severe loss of blood) due to multiple stab wounds as the cause of death.
The 1983 killing of Olson remains unsolved.
There have been retrospective news stories by the West Central Tribune revisiting the crime at various points over the decades as law enforcement sought new leads from the public.
The case did not lack attention over time — both from law enforcement and from the public. The homicide investigation included an FBI profiler, who now has a Netflix show about his work; there was a lawsuit filed by a man who said he was tormented by law enforcement; and the Olson home burned down, twice.
Olson was a retired farmer who had never married. He sold seed corn and monuments and, according to newspaper accounts of the time, was well-liked and well-known throughout the Belgrade community.
He was active in the Crow River Lutheran Church. He had reportedly donated $8,000 to the church one month before his death, according to an April 1983 account in the West Central Tribune. The same story noted that friends and neighbors who knew Olson questioned why he would be targeted by a criminal. He never carried much in the way of money, always writing checks for his purchases.
Olson's absence from choir practice on Wednesday, Feb. 16, 1983, was the first sign that something was amiss. He also had failed to show up that day for the senior noon meal in Belgrade even though he had signed up for it.
Authorities later disclosed that he had picked up his mail on Tuesday, but not Wednesday, leading them to believe his death had likely occurred sometime after he was last seen in Belgrade at 3:30 p.m. on Feb. 15, 1983.
Shortly after the killing, authorities received an anonymous letter from someone stating they had seen a brown pickup truck in the victim's driveway on Feb. 16.
The FBI was called to help, and John E. Douglas of the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit penned a profile of Olson’s killer, calling him a high school-educated man in poor physical condition who appeared withdrawn and nervous.
The Netflix show " Mindhunter " is loosely based on Douglas' career with the FBI as a pioneer in behavioral science.
To law enforcement at the time, this fit the description of Norman Larson , of New London, who later sued the Kandiyohi County Sheriff's Office and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension in 1986 for defamation.
According to the lawsuit, law enforcement locked Larson in a hotel room with the alleged weapons used to kill Olson, told others that Larson was the prime suspect, made phone calls to Larson and said the spirit of Olson "was going to get out and haunt him."
Norman Larson was born in June 1935 on the family farm, also in Burbank Township. He died at his home March 26, 2018 .
The dismissal of Larson's lawsuit was upheld by the Minnesota Court of Appeals in 1990, ruling the District Court did not err when it dismissed the suit for failure to abide by the statute of limitations. Larson was never charged with a crime related to Olson's death.
Nearly 30 years later, Norman Larson would again deal with homicide investigators — this time as two neighbors of his were charged in the killing of his son.
Timothy Richard Larson, a St. Michael-Albertville School District teacher, was murdered on Oct. 8, 2011, at his father's residence in northwest Burbank Township. Delbert Huber and Timothy Huber, of Paynesville, were later tried and convicted in the Timothy Larson homicide.
Delbert Huber died in prison in 2014, at age 83. Timothy Huber is on supervised release under the Hennepin County Department of Community Corrections, according to the state Department of Corrections.
Scriver Olson, Delbert Huber, Norman Larson and Timothy Larson all owned property in northwest Burbank Township.
Another curious thing to happen at the Olson farmhouse is that it burned twice, once in 1983 due to a brush fire and once due to arson in 1984.
According to a March 22, 1984, story in the West Central Tribune, law enforcement believes the fire was started when someone set a flare in the home's window.
Through the years, a number of officers with both the Kandiyohi County Sheriff's Office and the BCA have continued to investigate the unsolved Olson homicide.
According to Kandiyohi County Sheriff's Detective Kent Bauman, the case is active and open and they continue to reevaluate the case when new information comes in.
There is always the possibility that some new advancement in technology could help pull new information from the evidence held by law enforcement and provide some of the answers so long sought.
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