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'She's our hero:' Family of Grand Forks mother killed during child custody exchange speaks out

The family of 31-year-old Carissa Odegaard said while they are heartbroken, they are very proud of her for standing up for herself and her kids.

Carissa Odegaard
Carissa Odegaard, who is pictured here with her five children, died following an assault, Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2022. Her ex-husband, Anders Odegaard, was arrested and charged with the crime.
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WARREN — The family of 31-year-old Carissa Odegaard wants the single mother of five to be remembered for the person she was to them and so many in the Grand Forks area, not how she died.

Her sister Anna Woinarowicz wants to say thank you to everyone for the outpouring of love during this tough time.

"My mom said she was the easiest daughter to raise, no offense to the rest of us," she said with a laugh.

A 31-year-old who made her kids her world, even as she was going back to school for medical coding and running a photography business. Odegaard's sister said her sister made being a mom the greatest privilege in life.

"After leaving her ex-husband I watched her rebuild a beautiful life for her and her kids, she invested herself in all of their needs. She was so elegant with each of their personalities, and gave all of them tools to succeed while cheering each of them on in their interest," said Woinarowicz.

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A young woman with a compassionate heart and sensitive spirit.

"You could feel the peace of God coming off of her even when things weren't perfect," said Woinarowicz.

A family mixed with grief but pride at the same time, as she fought for her kids up to her final breath.

While all of us are very heartbroken, we are also all very proud of her for standing up for herself and her kids. She's our hero," said Woinarowicz.

Odegaards family wants everyone to know the five kids are safe.

A GoFundMe has been setup for Carissa Odegaard's children and family.

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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