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Nearly a decade and a half after a North Dakota college student was found stabbed to death in her apartment, her former roommate has been arrested and charged with her murder.
Anita Knutson was an 18-year-old student at Minot State University when she was killed. Her father, who had grown increasingly concerned after not hearing from her, asked her apartment manager to let him into her home in June of 2007, according to charging documents obtained by Oxygen.com. There, in her bedroom, he found her body. She had been stabbed twice.
Nothing appeared to have been taken from the apartment, but a screen window leading into the teen’s bedroom had been removed.
On Wednesday, the Minot Police arrested 34-year-old Nichole Rice, who was living with Knutson at the time of her murder, Ward County State’s Attorney Roza Larson announced in a press release. She was arrested at the Minot Air Force Base, where she works, the Minot Daily News reports.
Rice has been charged with class AA felony murder. Such a charge is punishable by up to life in prison without parole.
At a press conference on Wednesday, Police Chief John Klug noted that Rice has always been a person of interest in the case.
“I think the turning point in this case was really just trying to pull all that information together and put it in an order that made sense,” he said. “A lot of the information is information that we have. It just took a little bit of refocusing and a lot of paying attention to the fine details.”
He credited Oxygen’s “Cold Justice” for the break in the case. Knutson’s case will be featured in an episode for the show’s upcoming season.
“We tried to actively investigate Anita’s case for the past few years, and finally, with the help of ‘Cold Justice,’ we were able to move forward and regain focus,” Klug said on Wednesday. "Due to the resources, logistics, planning and experts they were able to provide, we were able to obtain an arrest warrant.”
"Cold Justice's" Kelly Siegler noted that "working on a case with a victim as loved as Anita with a police department like Minot PD, who was so invested, in a world of witnesses this cooperative was wonderful.”
“Cold Justice” has contributed to more than 50 arrests in cold cases around the U.S. The show’s efforts have also assisted in numerous guilty verdicts, including the 2019 conviction of Robin Mendez, who bludgeoned his wife to death in 1982 at her credit union job in Wisconsin. Among some of the other more recent successes, “Cold Justice” was credited with breaking a cold case in Colorado which saw Jesse Hogue arrested for allegedly murdering his ex-wife in 1994.
Philip Becher of the Sand Law Firm in Minot, who represents Rice, has not immediately responded to Oxygen.com’s request for comment.
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