February 17: A Tragic Shooting
On this date in 1932, Barnes County district attorney Roy Ployhar was considering charges for a tragic shooting. Seventeen-year-old Myron Tendick had shot and killed Henry Ruud. Ruud was his stepfather. The incident occurred at their home in Nome, North Dakota. But even though the boy had confessed, the facts of the case were far from cut and dried.
The case was complicated by the fact that Tendick was under the age of eighteen, meaning the matter was taken up in juvenile court. Furthermore, Tendick said he had shot his stepfather in order to protect his mother. Ruud was reportedly intoxicated and arguing with Tendick’s mother. Tendick ran to get the marshal, but the marshal was in church, so the boy returned home without him.
He described how his mother and stepfather were still arguing when he came back. When Ruud became threatening, Tendick, afraid for his mother’s safety, got a revolver. He fired two shots. The first hit Ruud. The second missed. Ruud died a short time later in the Valley City hospital.
Tendick’s version of events was corroborated by his mother, his thirteen-year-old sister, and a friend of Tendick’s who witnessed the event.
On February 18, Tendick’s lawyer waived the preliminary hearing and the lad was charged with first-degree murder. The case came to trial in June. When the marshal testified, he expressed the opinion that the shooting was premeditated. The defense presented a strong rebuttal, with Tendick’s mother, sister, and his friend all testifying on his behalf. His mother said she and Ruud frequently quarreled and she was afraid of him.
Despite that support, the jury found Tendick guilty and sentenced him to ten years in prison. In July he requested a transfer to the boys’ training school in Mandan. His request was granted with the understanding that he could be returned to prison should the superintendent of the school determine that was necessary.
Tendick was on the front page of the newspaper again in 1934, but for something considerably more positive. He won first place for his dramatic reading in the state speech and music contest.
Dakota Datebook by Carole Butcher
- Bismarck Tribune. 17-Year Old Shoots Step-Father to End Parents’ Argument.” Bismarck ND. 2/15/1932. Page 1.
- Bismarck Tribune. “Shooting at Nome found Felonious.” Bismarck ND. 2/16/1932. Page 1.
- Bismarck Tribune. “Considers Charge for Young Slayer.” Bismarck ND. 2/17/1932. Page 1.
- Bismarck Tribune. “Arraign Youth on Murder Charges.” Bismarck ND 2/18/1932. Page 1.
- Bismarck Tribune. “Says Youth Admitted Shooting Step-Father.” Bismarck ND. 6/9/1932. Page 1.
- Bismarck Tribune. “To End Testimony in Murder Hearing.” Bismarck ND. 6/10/1932. Page 1.
- Bismarck Tribune. “Six ‘Lifers’ Asking Release from Prison.” Bismarck ND. 7/14/1933. Page 2.
- Bismarck Tribune. “State Pardon Body to Delay Decisions.” Bismarck ND. 7/26/1933. Page 5.
- Bismarck Tribune. “Bismarck, Mandan and Underwood in District Contest.” Bismarck ND. 4/25/1934. Page 1.