Anita Knutson’s murder in June 2007 shocked the entire community. She was an 18-year-old college student who was found dead in her off-campus residence in Minot.
The arrest of Nichole Rice, age 34, was made public by Minot Police during a news conference on March 16, 2022. At the time of Anita’s murder, Rice shared a room with her.
Anita Knutson had just finished her first semester at North Dakota’s Minot State University. Her family could not contact her on the first weekend of June 2007, which was incredibly out of character.
After several unsuccessful attempts, Gordon, Anita’s father, finally drove to check on her and uncovered something terrifying there.
The murder case
According to her family, Anita, a determined, caring, and kind young woman, has just finished her first year of studies in elementary education at Minot State University.
She was living with Rice in an off-campus apartment while working two jobs to pay for Rice’s education.
The last time her mother, Sharon Knutson, spoke to her daughter was Friday, June 1, 2007. She informed the actual crime program that the two were in touch every day.
Therefore, on June 4, Sharon requested her husband to drive from their house in Butte, North Dakota, to Anita’s apartment after Anita’s phone went unanswered for days.
Anita’s father, Gardon, tried to enter the flat but was unable because it was locked. As a result, he went to the Landlady and the maintenance person for assistance.
Gordon added that the maintenance man remembered seeing a window screen outside Anita’s flat that had been hacked off.
According to the sources, the landlady let them inside, after which they contacted the Minot Police Department.
He claimed that when he searched for the screen, he discovered it was coming from his daughter’s bedroom window. He turned around and saw his daughter, Anita, lying face down on her bed, bleeding from stab wounds.
Her father claimed that she had been covered in a vast house coat, and he touched her by squeezing through the glass. Gordon remarked, “Her body was chilly, so I knew she was dead.”
Investigation of Anita Knutson murder case
According to the report, when police arrived at the scene at 5:12 p.m., they discovered a small pocket knife covered in dried blood on Anita’s bed.
Anita’s laptop, mobile, purse, and digital camera were all found in her bedroom, according to the affidavit of the investigators, showing that her death was not the result of a robbery.
The report claims there were no indications that somebody had entered through Anita’s bedroom window, where the screen had been removed.
According to a source’s interview with David Goodman from the Minot Police Department, he discovered blood traces where the screen was cut, indicating that it was likely cut after the murder.
According to investigators from Crime Watch Daily, police questioned Anita’s friends, neighbors, and construction workers performing work nearby.
They collected samples from the people they spoke with and discovered DNA evidence on the pocketknife. Police also interviewed Anita’s roommate Rice.
According to reports, Rice told the police that she spent the weekend with her family.
As per sources, detectives thought Rice’s story was false in some way, but later reports claimed that Rice and her parents were inconsistent and contradictory.
As per the study, Anita frequently quarreled, as confirmed by the number of their friends. Rice was “hot-tempered and reactive,” as to them.
Sharon claimed on the proper crime program that Rice had sent Anita threatening messages, adding that Anita was afraid of her. Sharon stated that Anita had plans to leave.
Rice was never excluded as a suspect, according to police chief Klug, but there was insufficient proof to warrant her detention.
After collaborating with “Cold Justice,” another actual crime show, the Minot Police Department started re-interviewing suspects and witnesses early this year, according to Klug.
According to the police chief, the Oxygen-aired episode gave investigators more assistance and knowledge.
Over time, Anita’s family became impatient and worried that the police department ignored the issue. Yet, Minot Police assert that they have never stopped looking for leads and have never forgotten about the case.
According to the affidavit, authorities have received several reports concerning Rice over the years, including one that said Rice’s roommate confessed to killing Anita while intoxicated.
The document claims that detectives did not discover who Rice allegedly confessed to until earlier this month.
Investigators discovered that it was a man Rice dated briefly between 2008 and 2009. Some sources claim that, during that time, the pair was at a party when someone brought up Anita’s passing.
As per police statement, the ex-boyfriend claimed that Rice became “belligerently drunk.” The affidavit claims that Rice admitted to him that she had “done it.”
When Rice was sober, and the man tried to question her about the confession, she allegedly ignored the inquiries out of anger.
According to court documents, Rice must return to court on April 21.
The arrest of Nichole Rice
Anita Knutson’s murder case remained unsolved for more than 14 years and was taken on by the Minot Police Department.
Her family expressed their frustration with the hold-up in interviews over the years, saying they believed law police botched the probe.
During the investigation, Minot Police chief John Klug revealed that Nichole Rice, known as Anita’s roommate, had been in custody in the case of her passing.
She was charged with killing Anita Knutson on September 8 in Minot’s North District Court. Rice was accused of Class AA murder in the case.
After an extended period, The Minot Police Department police officer Mikali Talbot started working on the cold case for a long time in 2018 and presented the State’s case.
In addition to some inconsistencies in Rice’s statement and alibi for the night of the murder, Talbott’s testimony emphasizes several facts and pieces of evidence found at the scene that show the assailant had access to Knutson’s flat in Minot.
In the years following the first inquiry, Rice remained interested in the case and gave the investigators some statements.
Talbott cited some discrepancies between Rice’s claims and those of family members, contradicting the account Rice provided of her action on June 2.
He also shared a statement from a man who overheard Rice confessing while intoxicated at a party.
A DNA sample taken from the murder weapon is also used in the State’s prosecution.
Although the sample was too tiny to compare to the law enforcement database, it might be compared to other pieces for analysis.
The sample was compared to other people of interest, but Rice was the only one from whom the investigators could not rule anyone else out.
Rice entered a not-guilty plea after there was enough evidence to proceed with the trial.
She was arrested in March 2022 on an AA-felony murder charge.