HITTERDAL, Minn. – Members of Valley Water Rescue searched a slough just west of a rural Clay County farm on Wednesday, July 11, seeking more evidence in the death of Troy Yarbrough, who investigators say was murdered last month.
The search of the slough near a farmstead owned by Jason Jenson at 25324 70th Ave. N. started about 9:30 a.m., and divers were there until about 2 p.m., said Pete Fendt, president of Valley Water Rescue.
Clay County Detective Jason Hicks said he couldn’t talk about what investigators were hoping to find in the slough. However, he said he believes there’s enough evidence to continue with the cases against 39-year-old Jenson and 34-year-old Kayla Westcott, who were charged July 6 in Clay County District Court with aiding and abetting in murder with intent, but without premeditation, in the death of Yarbrough.
“We’re kind of checking the box and hoping to find any extra evidence to help us with our case.
It was just a follow-up kind of thing,” Hicks said. “We certainly have enough to make the case already. Any little bit in a case will help. We’re looking for anything of value.”
According to court documents, the Clay County Sheriff's Office was notified June 15 that Jensen and Westcott were the last to see Yarbrough, before he went missing from Wahpeton, N.D., on May 18. Police went to Jensen's farmstead, where Westcott and Jensen said they hadn't seen Yarbrough since May 18.
Westcott later told officers she and Jensen picked up Yarbrough on May 18 and came to the farmstead. On May 20, Yarbrough approached Westcott in a large red shed on the farm and told her "it's either you or me," she told police.
At this point, Jensen hit Yarbrough with a rake handle before hitting him with an ax and asking Wescott to do the same, court documents stated. Westcott told investigators she swung the ax but didn't hit Yarbrough.
The body was left in the shed overnight, and Jensen and Westcott found Yarbrough still alive the next morning, court documents said. Westcott told investigators Jensen hit Yarbrough in the head with a cinder block, killing him.
She told officers they tried to burn the body and bury it behind the house, according to court documents. Investigators conducted a search of the farmstead and found the bloody cinder block and Yarbrough's remains in a garbage bag buried behind the garage.
When questioned about the findings, Jensen told officers it was Westcott who killed Yarbrough. He acknowledged helping dispose of the body but denied taking part in the killing, court documents stated.
Jensen has an omnibus hearing set for 9:30 a.m. July 26, with Westcott having the same hearing at 9:30 a.m. Aug. 23. Bail for both Westcott and Jensen is set at $2 million without conditions, or $1 million with conditions.