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Former Prosecutor Charged With Beating Ex-Wife To Death In Front Of Their Children
Two of Carissa and Anders Odegaard's five children flagged down a passerby after their dad allegedly attacked their mom, who was holding their 2-year-old sibling in her arms.
A former prosecutor is in custody after investigators say he mercilessly beat his ex-wife to death in front of their horrified children.
Anders Leland Odegaard, 31, was initially arrested on Tuesday on charges of assault for the beating of his former wife, Carissa Odegaard, 31, at his Warren, Minnesota home — about 110 miles north of Fargo, North Dakota. Those charges, however, were upgraded to second-degree murder after the victim succumbed to her injuries at a Fargo hospital on Wednesday night, according to a criminal complaint obtained by Oxygen.com.
The fatal attack happened in front of three of the divorced couple’s five children, whose ages range from 2 to 9 years old.
Carissa was holding her youngest child when the attack began.
According to the complaint, Carissa was reportedly scheduled to pick the children up at 5:00 p.m. from Anders' home. But, the couple’s 8-year-old son told police, Anders allegedly tried to stop her from taking the children to church.
Two of the middle siblings were already one of their parents’ cars when the fight apparently started, and Carissa was carrying the couple's 2-year-old.
Anders allegedly initiated the altercation in the backyard and continued it into the house. According to the 8-year-old, the parents began fighting over the 2-year-old child.
“Mom and Dad were tackling each other, and his mother had a cut on his arm,” per the affidavit. “[The 8-year-old son] got his little brother away from his parents and had to wash him up because there was blood on him.”
The eldest child said that, by the time he went inside, Anders had gotten on top of Carissa and began choking her.
“[The 9-year-old boy] stated that when he went into the house, his mother was lying on the floor,” the affidavit stated. “He stated he believed his father grabbed a knife or a flipper (spatula) and hit his mother with that.”
Anders reportedly instructed the 9-year-old to leave the house.
The 8-year-old added that, when he returned from cleaning up his youngest sibling, “there was blood all over” and that, when he touched his mother’s foot, she was unresponsive.
The two older children ran out of the home and flagged down a passerby for help, claiming “their mom was bleeding really bad and needed help,” according to the affidavit. One of the two said they thought their mother was dead and both boys appeared “very worked up.”
When deputies from the Marshall County Sheriff’s Office arrived, Anders appeared from the kitchen, wearing only his boxer briefs. He also had blood in his hair and smeared on his left eyebrow.
Anders allegedly told responders, "I don’t feel right,” when asked more than once about what unfolded. He was arrested on the scene.
Carissa was found lying in a doorway west of the home’s entryway.
“Upon approaching Carissa, [Deputy] noticed that she was no breathing and had severe head trauma and had blood pooling on the floor by her head,” according to the affidavit.
The victim was subsequently airlifted to Sanford Health in Fargo. NBC Minneapolis affiliate KARE reported she had “no significant brain function.”
According to a statement from the Marshall County Sheriff’s Office sent to Oxygen.com, Carissa was kept on life support “while the organ donation process is being completed” before she was pronounced dead Wednesday night.
“This horrible tragedy will not be lost on our community,” loved ones wrote of her donation on a GoFundMe page. “Carissa’s mom friends, community and family will miss her dearly and hope this will help honor her name.”
According to Fox Fargo affiliate KVRR, Carissa Odegaard was a photographer from Grand Forks, North Dakota.
Court records reviewed by Fox News show Anders had a spotty work history as a lawyer.
He was reportedly licensed to practice in both North Dakota and Minnesota, and from 2018 to 2020, KVRR reported that worked at the North Dakota Attorney General's office. After that, he worked with the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Attorney’s office in North Dakota from June until Sept. 2021, when he was fired.
He then spent another three months as a public defender in Stark County in North Dakota but was also fired from that job, according to Fox News. He reportedly returned to Minnesota after another short-lived position with a private practice.
In divorce filings from 2021, Anders listed himself as working with the Mercer County State’s Attorney’s office. Per their court agreement, Carissa maintained physical custody of the children, while Anders shared legal custody, meaning that he had a say in his children’s upbringing, according to Fox News.
Anders has been booked into the county jail on charges of second-degree murder. If convicted, he faces up to 40 years in prison. Prosecutors have already announced their intention to seek a harsher penalty because the victim was “treated with particular cruelty” and because the alleged act was committed in the presence of children.