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March 12: A Most Cold-Blooded Affair

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Anna Ingulsrud was 18 years old when she worked as a waitress in a Fairdale, North Dakota. Otto Weberg, 24, courted her, determined to marry. Anna, however, did not return his affection. Weberg became distraught upon learning Anna was seeing another man.

On a January evening in 1907, Weberg entered the restaurant and sat at a table. When Anna approached to take his order, he pulled out a revolver and fired at point-blank range. She fell to the floor, and there was momentary panic in the restaurant. Some of the patrons took Weberg into custody while others carried Anna into another room and someone ran to get a doctor. It was too late. She was dead.

Anna was well-known and well-liked. Outraged citizens talked lynching Weberg, but law enforcement kept him under close guard, ensuring little chance of violence.

North Dakota newspapers across the state published updates on the trial. On this date in 1907, readers learned the defense planned to show that Weberg was insane at the time of the shooting. Observers noted that this was likely to be the only argument offered in Weberg’s defense. The state and the defense both rested on March 15 and the case went to the jury the following day. On the afternoon of March 17, the jury returned a verdict of guilty with a recommendation for life in prison.

That was not the end of it. In 1910, Weberg asked for the case to be reviewed as he had new evidence. That request was denied, but that still wasn’t the final word. In 1915, he received a reduction of sentence from life to fifteen years. According to a newspaper article, “Clemency was recommended by several hundred citizens of Walsh County, including practically every citizen of the community in which the crime was committed.” This included three members of the jury that convicted him. The victim’s brother objected. He wrote a scathing letter to the court about the people who wanted to forgive his sister’s killer. With time off for good behavior, Weberg ended up serving ten years in prison.

Dakota Datebook by Dr. Carole Butcher


  • Bismarck Daily Tribune. “Shot His Beloved.” Bismarck ND. 1/25/1907. Page 3.
  • Evening Times. “Testimony as to His Sanity.” Grand Forks ND. 3/12/1907. Page 5.
  • Fargo Forum and Daily Republican. “Weberg Breaks Down.” 3/15/1907. Page 1.
  • Bismarck Daily Tribune. “Guilty.” Bismarck ND. 3/17/1907. Page 1.
  • Ward County Independent. “Wants Case Reviewed.” Minot ND. 9/1/1010. Page 3.
  • Fargo Forum and Daily Republican. “Commutations of Sentence.” Fargo ND. 6/19/1915. Page 4.
  • Grand Forks Daily Herald. “Life Sentence Cut to 15 Years.” Grand Forks ND. 6/14/1915. Page 4.
  • Courier Democrat. “In an Open Letter.” Langdon ND. 7/1/1915. Page 4.

Dakota Datebook is made in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, and funded by Humanities North Dakota, a nonprofit, independent state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the program do not necessarily reflect those of Humanities North Dakota or the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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