MOORHEAD — A Moorhead man is charged with murdering a missing teenager, dismembering her body and putting her remains in dumpsters near his apartment.
Ethan Martin Broad, 27, appeared Monday, April 20, in Clay County District Court on a charge of second-degree murder in the death of 19-year-old Dystynee Avery. His bond was set at $1 million, and his next hearing is May 14.
A criminal complaint alleges Broad killed Avery in his apartment and used several saws to cut up her body in his garage at 1310 28th Ave. S. He then put her remains into garbage bags and threw them into dumpsters at the apartment, court documents said.
Court documents don't say when the alleged acts happened or whether police have found Avery’s remains, but investigators said they found bloodstains on the carpet of the apartment and on blue bins.
Broad initially told police another person hit Avery over the head with a lead pipe and cut her throat, according to court documents. He also claimed others helped him move Avery’s body to the garage and told him he needed to cut up the body and dispose of the remains, court documents said.
Surveillance footage shows the defendant dragging a blue tote from the apartment alone, and no one else was seen going into the garage, court documents said. Broad later acknowledged being responsible for Avery’s death and claimed he did it in self-defense, court documents stated. He also told investigators he used bleach to clean the apartment, according to court documents.
Two witnesses also said Broad told them he killed Avery, according to court documents.
Broad was booked Friday, April 17, into the Clay County Jail, according to the jail log.
The Moorhead Police Department has declined to comment on details of the case, including whether investigators have found remains or whether they are searching local landfills or recycling centers.
The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, which also declined to comment for this story, and Clay County Sheriff's Office are helping Moorhead police with the investigation.
Skaff Apartments manages the building, and office manager Emily Paiva told The Forum her staff is working closely with investigators and can assure the building and its residents are safe.
Rex Tucker, chief public defender in the Seventh Judicial District of Minnesota, is based in St. Cloud, Minn., and is listed in court records as Broad's attorney. A local assistant public defender will be assigned to represent Broad, Tucker said in a phone message left for The Forum.
"We will not comment on the case," he said.
'She had the biggest heart'
Originally from Denver, Avery moved to Moorhead about a year and a half ago from Devers, Texas, to be with her boyfriend, her sister Valerie Parker told The Forum on Monday. Broad was not Avery's boyfriend, but they were close friends, Parker said. She previously said Avery thought of Broad as a brother.
Parker described Avery as lovable, caring and trusting. She would give her shirt to help anyone, Parker said.
“She had the biggest heart,” Parker said of her sister.
Police noted Avery's mother reported her missing on April 9. The mother said she hadn't had any recent contact with her daughter, according to court documents. Avery contacted her mother regularly, police said.
Police also took missing person reports on Avery from her friends on April 5 and 6, according to court documents, which noted that one of those calls for service came from Broad.
He told police he and Avery lived together for a short period of time but that she had moved out. Broad then said he hadn't seen Avery since April 4, court documents stated.
Broad called Parker and other relatives of Avery's the night of her disappearance, saying Avery had run off with a "car full of guys," Parker told The Forum. Parker said she now believes that he lied.
Parker said she had plans to come see Avery soon for the former's birthday. Avery was going to show Parker around Moorhead. Avery also told Parker she might be pregnant, Parker said.
“What he did to her, it’s sickening,” Parker said, adding that her sister had her whole life in front of her. "She didn't deserve this."
The news is heartbreaking, Parker said, but her family hopes Avery can get justice.
Court documents did not reveal a motive. If convicted, Broad could face up to 40 years behind bars. Parker said she hopes Broad never gets out of prison.
Clay County Attorney Brian Melton, listed in court records as the prosecutor on the case, declined to comment for this story.
Anyone with information regarding Avery's death is asked to call the Red River Regional Dispatch Center at 701-451-7660 and ask to speak with a Moorhead police investigator.