Agents search Clay County landfill for evidence in killing of missing teen

Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension agents and others search through trash Tuesday, April 21, at the Clay County Landfill southwest of Hawley, Minn. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor
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HAWLEY, Minn. — State and local investigators searched for evidence Tuesday, April 21, at the Clay County landfill southwest of Hawley a day afte r a Moorhead man was accused of killing a teenager, dismembering her body and putting her remains in dumpsters , police told The Forum.

Ethan Martin Broad, 27, was charged Monday with second-degree murder after allegedly telling police he was responsible for the death of 19-year-old Dystynee Avery.

Moorhead Police Capt. Deric Swenson confirmed that police, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and the Clay County Sheriff's Office were at the landfill, which is about 20 miles east of Moorhead. Swenson declined to say what officers were looking for, but he said the search there was related to the investigation into Avery's disappearance.


Whether investigators found any evidence at the landfill Tuesday was unclear. Her family has told The Forum her body has not been found.

Agents in BCA jackets could be seen Tuesday morning with others at the landfill as an excavator and other heavy machinery dug into piles of trash. It appeared people helping with the search were looking through garbage bags.

Dystynee Avery.jpg
Dystynee Avery

Avery was last seen April 3. Police believe Broad dragged her body from his apartment at 1310 28th Ave. S. to his garage, according to court documents. He then used several saws to dismember her, put her into garbage bags and placed her into dumpsters at the apartment, court documents said.

Broad, Avery’s mother and others reported the teenager missing in early April. Police have declined to say whether Avery’s remains have been recovered, but court documents said investigators found blood stains in Broad’s apartment and on blue bins.

Broad initially told investigators someone else hit Avery over the head with a lead pipe and cut her throat, according to court documents.


Ethan Broad.jpg
Ethan Broad

Broad also claimed others helped him drag her body to the garage. Camera footage shows Broad dragging a blue tote from his apartment to his garage, but no one else was seen with him, court documents said.

He later claimed he killed Avery in self-defense, court documents stated.

Avery, who moved to Moorhead from Devers, Texas, about a year and a half ago to be with her boyfriend, lived with Broad for a short time before she went missing, according to court documents. Broad and Avery were not dating, but her family described the two as close friends.

Avery met Broad through mutual friends shortly after she arrived in Moorhead, her sister Valarie Parker said. The teenager trusted anyone she met, which is why she moved in with Broad, Parker said.

They lived together on and off after first meeting, Parker said. That's what makes it so difficult to understand why Broad would kill Avery, she said.

The timeline of events, including when Broad allegedly killed Avery and put her remains in the dumpsters, has not been disclosed to the public. Garbage from his apartment is collected on Fridays, the city of Moorhead said.

Broad was booked into the Clay County Jail on Friday, April 17. He is being held on a $1 million bond.


Kenneth Kludt has been appointed to serve as Broad's attorney. Kludt did not return a message left Tuesday by The Forum. Broad faces up to 40 years in prison if convicted.

Clay County Sheriff Mark Empting and a Salvation Army truck that typically provides food and drinks during disaster relief efforts also were spotted at the landfill on Tuesday. Empting declined to comment for this story and referred questions to Moorhead police.

Several people watch heavy machinery scrape away layers of trash Tuesday, April 21, at the Clay County Landfill southwest of Hawley, Minn. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

April Baumgarten joined The Forum in February 2019 as an investigative reporter. She grew up on a ranch 10 miles southeast of Belfield, N.D., where her family raises Hereford cattle. She double majored in communications and history/political science at the University of Jamestown, N.D.
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