A Warwick, ND man will proceed with a second degree murder conviction for killing a woman on the Spirit Lake Indian Reservation more than three years ago.
Investigators have linked Billy Joe Herman and his wife, Crystal Marie Herman, to the crime after the body of Amanda Jean Stach Engst, 36, was found in the Sheyenne River on February 4, 2016 south of Warwick, 25 miles south of Devils. Lake.
Billy Herman, 39, filed a waiver of indictment in federal court on Monday, April 29, which means he will not appear before a grand jury on the charges, but instead will be convicted directly from the information filed in the case. The newly filed briefing document states that Billy Herman “unlawfully killed a human being, namely Amanda Engst, with premeditation.”
He was initially charged with murder, aiding and abetting, second degree murder in Indian Country, kidnapping and assault with intent to commit murder. A jury trial has been postponed four times.
A plea agreement filed last month called for him to serve life in prison, although a final sentencing hearing is scheduled for August 19.
Crystal Herman, 39, is already serving a sentence for complicity in murder and is expected to be released in 2034. She was prosecuted in Eddy County District Court, although the charges against her husband have gone to court federal.
Its indictment reveals few details, but said Billy Herman kidnapped Engst, “bludgeoning her violently with his fist and shod feet”, and strangling her with a rope around October 12, 2015.
An affidavit for Crystal Herman’s arrest said she opened the car door near the east end of Battle Lake in Eddy County so her husband could strangle Engst outside the vehicle. She reportedly cleared the trunk to make room for Engst’s body and watched as Billy Herman wrapped her in a tarp and placed the body in the trunk before driving to the Spirit Lake Indian Reservation. Crystal Herman held a flashlight as her husband again beat Engst and rewrapped her in the tarp before dumping her body in the river, according to the affidavit.
Several court documents and convictions detail the couple’s robbery and burglary spree in Minnesota and North Dakota at the time of Engst’s disappearance. A court document says they were found in his car and arrested in connection with the thefts about a week before his body was discovered.
Engst went missing two months after the body of Carla Jovon Yellowbird was found along a road on the Spirit Lake Indian Reservation. Three men have been convicted for Yellowbird’s death.
Engst grew up in Breckenridge, Minn., and was a mother of three, according to her obituary. She was a CNA and worked at Red River Human Services, where her obituary indicated that she found joy in working with people with special needs.