NORTHWOOD, N.D. — North Dakota authorities are investigating the early May death of a 54-year-old Grand Forks County man thought by many in his community to have died of natural causes.
When Kevin Mastrud, a well-known city worker in Northwood, a community of 900 about 25 miles southwest of Grand Forks, was found dead in his home May 6, few found it peculiar.
"He wasn't the healthiest guy, (I) kind of figured he had a heart attack," said neighbor Zach Sawyer.
But after the state crime lab and detectives were seen at the house a second time Monday, just two weeks after his death, some neighbors are asking questions about what actually happened at the house where Mastrud lived alone.
"It's been a weird feeling," Sawyer said.
Grand Forks County Sheriff Andrew Schneider wouldn't say Wednesday if Mastrud's death was suspicious, but said "connect the dots" when asked if Mastrud's autopsy report was the reason the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation returned to his Northwood house.
"Something peculiar has been brought to their attention that merits further looking into," said Joel Arnason, a longtime criminal defense lawyer with Rosenquist & Arnason in Grand Forks, who is not connected to the investigation but provided insight on what may be going on behind the scenes.
"Normally the cause of death is quite easily ascertainable. The fact that it's taken a couple weeks would lead us to speculate there may be more to it than first anticipated," Arnason added.
Mastrud's family members say detectives have taken several of their cell phones as part of the investigation.
"Usually that is suspicious if they are requesting cell phones from family members, but they must know something we don't know if they are requesting them," Arnason said.
Mastrud's family members say they haven't been told by law enforcement officials what's going on and that authorities never revealed how Mastrud died.
However, per Mastrud's wishes, the family was allowed to cremate his body a few days after his death and a memorial service was held.
The Grand Forks County State's Attorney's Office has not yet been able to provide information on Monday's search warrant at Mastrud's Northwood home and says it is still determining which parts of the warrant are public information and which parts are not.
The State's Attorney's office said documents could be released as early as Thursday.
"Everybody here wants answers," Sawyer said.