Saturday, November 12, 2005

Jet's Fargo

This entry will be the first in a series of entries concerning Joseph Duncan's life in Fargo, ND- as told by his friends and acquaintances from the Fargo area.

Fargo, ND: Late summer/early fall, 2000. "Jet" arrives in Fargo, registers with the Fargo police as a Level III Sex Offender, enrolls at North Dakota State University (NDSU), secures an apartment and a software programming job...

Imagine you are a 30-something, single, professional man in a city of 90K people (wait- is that really a city, or technically a town?). You meet a man through some friends, and become friendly with him. He wants you to call him "Jet."

So, you find that you and Jet have a few things in common: the people you know, the kind of work you do, your single status, your love of the outdoors- and you form a friendship. You don't know so much about Jet, yet he is amazingly up-front about his Sex Offender status right away... and since he is a great student at NDSU, apparently has a fine position at a local company, an intellect to match yours, along with a couple of powerful, well-respected friends from Fargo who you have heard of, and he is quite the likeable guy- well, hey!- you trust that he is on the up-and-up.

You and Jet go out about once a week- to the movies, local clubs, you shoot some pool together, attend some local events together. Do the double-dating thing. You meet his "powerful" friends on more than one occasion, and they seem smitten with him. Smart guys, by all accounts. Successful, too. They'd certainly be good judges of character.

As the friendship progresses, you take note of how vociferously Jet opposes the persecution of sex offenders. You note how he constantly complains of the police visits and checks upon him- when he "never does anything wrong. " But he does take satisfaction in "screwing" with the police chief on the chief's internet forum, claiming to use many aliases to "set him up." What fun!

He seems to be obsessed about being falsely accused and being sent back to prison. He is quite emphatic about this. You feel bad for him, begin to sympathize with him. He quotes the bible. You're a religious guy, and you can level with him on this. But... he doesn't have quite the interpretation of the bible that you do.

You note discrepancies in his tired monologue: when he openly speaks about his conviction for raping a boy at gunpoint, he also adds that he "would not hurt a fly." But what does that mean, really? Here and now? You do not know.


But you know enough to demur when Jet asks you to go camping with him. More than once. Something about him rippled through your soul and shook your 'nads, and you hedged on the invitation, then just said "nope, can't- sorry." More than once. And you wonder, now, if you'd have made it back from a camping trip with him. Or if you'd have been ambushed while you slept: bludgeoned, raped, mutilated, and your broken body left in a stand of trees for the hunters to discover the next fall... ?

Because everything you thought you knew about this man, this "Jet," is wrong. Yes, there were some quirky feelings about things he said and did, but what did they mean, at the time? You now wonder who accepted Jet's invitations to go camping when you refused. He so wanted company. Did he pick up a young man- a hitchhiker- at a rest stop, instead? You watched the beautiful skies on one of those dark nights and thought you'd probably be enjoying a better view if you had just gone camping with Jet...

You don't know what you were missing.

That night, as you watched the skies? There may have been a young man staring up at the same stars, eyes open wider than you can imagine- begging for his very life. At the hand of that nice, intelligent guy you thought you knew. You shook that hand soon after, too. And all of this makes you sick now.

Imagine that you were one of the last people to see him before he absconded soon after his April 5th court date for the molestation charges in Becker County, MN. He actually came to your home for dinner the following Friday- April 8th. He sat at your table and spewed about the "false accusation" and the unreliability of "that kid who only had MY picture to choose from!" (assuming a photo lineup?) and went on and on during dinner about how he was the victim here...

And he "bitched about the money for his lawyer and the check that would bounce," he acknowleged his friend "Joe" paid his bond of $15,000.00, his friend "Rich" lent him $7,000 for lawyer's fees- BUT he was not worried about paying any money back. Not worried at all about how he'd pay that money back...

Nothing you knew, up until July, 2005 made any sense. When he took off in April, just days after he had been at your house- well, he's just running from the Becker County molestation charges. "Joe," you knew, had been in contact with Jet a couple times by phone. And since "Joe" had a lot of money to lose, and seemed OK with things, well then- who were you to say otherwise?

Until you watched the news on July 2nd, 2005.

I thank Sean for sharing with me his personal recollections and experiences with Joseph Duncan.


Magnolia said...

I'm so glad you are doing this...the guilt that so many people carry with them,the "if only" and the "why was I spared"?
These individuals,while not in the same victim category as the others,are victims,none the less.
Sean,thank you for sharing and I hope you heal soon.

FiveFootBagel said...

I agree with Magnolia. Seemingly everyone has their brush with 20 seconds of fame - what if you could have changed things for the better and just didn't know it at the time?

Steve Huff said...

Brava, Jules. Really informative, great background, and nicely written, to boot.

bloocherry said...

Jules, you are absolutely amazing. Always going the extra mile to find a hidden trait or fact as it relates to this case. Thank you for sharing all that is new, with all those who adore your sleuthing abilities.