Gruesome Murders of Mitmoen Brothers Revisited in Unresolved Cold Case

POPE COUNTY, Minn. — In May 1915, Andrew Knutson visited the farm of the three Mitmoen brothers near Ben Wade Township in Pope County, Minnesota. What he found was a disturbing scene: the two oldest brothers, Sven and Johannes (John), were discovered dead in the house, while the youngest brother, Amund, was found dead in the barn. All three had been murdered, apparently bludgeoned with a stone, and there were indications that Amund may have also been shot. Shockingly, the bodies seemed to have remained undiscovered for several days.

Amid speculations of robbery as the motive for the murders, it was noted that the brothers were relatively well-off and were known to have a significant amount of money in their possession. This led to the belief that the motive was indeed tied to financial gain. Despite the brutality of the murders, the perpetrators had seemingly overlooked a substantial sum of currency and gold, amounting to $2,700, left in a bureau drawer.

With no viable suspects in the case, a reward of $1,250 was offered, but the investigation hit a dead end. Then, in October, two men named John Jacobson and George Nelson, of Lignite, North Dakota, were charged with the crimes and brought to the county jail, based on a lead provided by a livery owner, George E. Wentworth.

The trial took place in December, and despite compelling evidence against them, testimony was presented that placed both Jacobson and Nelson in North Dakota at the time of the alleged murders. As a result, the men were acquitted by the jury and released on their own recognizance. No other individuals were ever charged with the tragic murders.