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String of armed robberies may be connected to missing person, sheriff says

Amanda Stach Engst

WARWICK, N.D.—Law enforcement agencies in two states are investigating a possible connection between a string of armed robberieslate last year and a missing person case.


Billy Joe Herman, 36, and Crystal Herman, 36, were sentenced in Traill County District Court in December in connection with an Oct. 30 robbery at a bar in Buxton, N.D.

The couple also has been charged in connection with armed robberies or burglaries in Grandin, N.D., and Perley, Minn. 

When the Hermans were arrested, they were in possession of a vehicle registered to Amanda Stach Engst, Traill County Sheriff Steve Hunt said. The vehicle has been impounded.

Engst, 36, who in recent years has lived in Fargo, Breckenridge, Minn., and perhaps in Warwick, N.D., was reported missing in November. A missing poster indicates the last time the family had contact with her was the last week in October.

Engst is described as 5 feet 6 inches tall, about 130 pounds and has brown eyes and brown or perhaps dyed blond hair.

According to family members, her last known address was Warwick. That's the same town the Hermans listed as their residence when they were arrested.

Warwick is located in Benson County on the Spirit Lake Reservation about 30 miles southeast of Devils Lake.

Norman County Sheriff Jeremy Thornton said his department is working on the missing person case with local law enforcement agencies in North Dakota, as well as the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation.

Billy Joe Herman is serving a one-year sentence at the North Dakota State Penitentiary in Bismarck.

Crystal Herman was sentenced to supervised probation and ordered to pay $900 in restitution.

Both also are facing first-degree aggravated robbery and second-degree assault charges in Norman County in connection with the Oct. 26 robbery of the Perley C-Store, Norman County State's Attorney James Brue said.

Crystal Herman is incarcerated at the Northwest Regional Corrections Center, Crookston, Minn., pending the Norman County case.

Anyone with information on Engst is asked to call the Lake Region Law Enforcement Center at (701) 662-5323; or call the Norman County Sheriff's Department in Ada, Minn., at (218) 784-7114 or Devils Lake Police Department at (701) 662-5323.

Kevin Bonham

Kevin Bonham covers regional news, mostly from northeast North Dakota, for the Grand Forks Herald. A North Dakota native who grew up in Mandan and Dickinson, he has been a reporter or an editor with the Herald and Forum Communications for more than 30 years. Find his articles at: He welcomes story ideas via email,, or by phone, (701) 780-1110.