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Fergus Falls man admits killing boy with autism for not cleaning dishes

Reggie Bethel will likely spend about 12 years in prison for beating the 11-year-old boy to death for failing to clean the silverware.

Reggie Bethel.png
Reggie Bethel
Otter Tail County Jail
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FERGUS FALLS — A Fergus Falls man admitted Monday, Jan. 10, he killed his girlfriend's 11-year-old son because the boy refused to do the dishes.

Fifty-seven-year-old Reggie Bethel pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. He sobbed for a significant part of the hourlong hearing.

Those tears came as the prosecutor pressed Bethel about how he killed 11-year-old Mason Weston, who had autism, in his Fergus Falls in late July.

Bethel — who has Parkinson's — said he doesn't remember much from that day, but does recall shaking Mason and why he killed him.

He said he got angry with his girlfriend's son for not cleaning the silverware.

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In court, Bethel said, "I vaguely remember putting my hands on the side of his head and telling him they got to be clean. I don't remember much after that."

Prosecutors said Bethel told investigators that day he slammed Mason's head into a wall five times and kicked him.

In court Monday, Bethel said he did not remember saying that to investigator, but he also did not deny it.

Prior to pleading guilty, Bethel could have served 40 years in prison for murder. For his guilty plea, he will likely spend 10 1/2 to 12 1/2 years in prison. Bethel will be sentenced on March 24.

The family of Mason issued a statement saying they had been waiting for this day, and that Mason is "smiling down from heaven and happy he is getting justice."

Matt Henson is an Emmy award-winning reporter/photographer/editor for WDAY. Prior to joining WDAY in 2019, Matt was the main anchor at WDAZ in Grand Forks for four years. He was born and raised in the suburbs of Philadelphia and attended college at Lyndon State College in northern Vermont, where he was recognized twice nationally, including first place, by the National Academy for Arts and Science for television production. Matt enjoys being a voice for the little guy. He focuses on crimes and courts and investigative stories. Just as often, he shares tear-jerking stories and stories of accomplishment. Matt enjoys traveling to small towns across North Dakota and Minnesota to share their stories. He can be reached at mhenson@wday.com and at 610-639-9215. When he's not at work (rare) Matt resides in Moorhead and enjoys spending time with his daughter, golfing and attending Bison and Sioux games.
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