MOORHEAD — Human remains, an ax and a bloody cinder block are what brought a man and woman to their first court appearance Monday, June 25, on charges of aiding and abetting murder.
Kayla Louise Westcott, 34, and Jason Charles Jensen, 39, were arrested in connection with a missing person case after human remains were found last week at a farmstead near Hitterdal, Minn. They’re each charged with a felony count of second-degree aiding and abetting murder with intent, but without premeditation, according to Clay County District Court documents.
Last week, investigators detained Jensen and Westcott as persons of interest in the missing person case of Troy Edmund Yarbrough out of Wahpeton, N.D., because the two were the last to be seen with him, the Clay County Sheriff’s Office said.
Court documents show police are waiting for confirmation from the Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s Office in St. Paul on the identity of the human remains found at 25324 70th Ave. N., a farmstead near Hitterdal that court records list as Jensen’s address.
According to court documents:
The Clay County Sheriff’s Office learned June 15 that a Wahpeton man, identified in court papers only as “TY,” had been missing since May 18 and was last seen with two people, later identified as Westcott, of Ada, Minn., and Jensen.
An officer spoke with Westcott at the farmstead on June 15. Westcott first indicated she did not know who the officer was talking about but then said she hadn’t seen TY in over a month. Jensen and Westcott told another officer they hadn’t seen TY in over a month and that he might be in Las Vegas.
Westcott later told investigators she and Jensen picked up TY in Wahpeton on May 18 and came to the Hitterdal farmstead. She said TY approached her in a large red shed on the farm on May 20 and he told her “it’s either you or me.”
At this point, she said Jensen hit TY with a rake handle, then hit him with an ax and asked Westcott to do the same. Westcott said she swung the ax but stopped before striking TY.
Westcott told officers TY’s body was left in the shed overnight. She and Jensen returned the next day to find TY still alive, Westcott said, and Jensen hit TY in the head with a cinder block, killing him.
She told officers they tried to burn the body and bury it behind the house. Court documents did not reveal a motive for the killing.
Investigators searched the farmstead June 21 and found a bloody cinder block and waited for the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to arrive to continue searching the woods.
Investigators interviewed Jensen who said he and Westcott picked up TY on May 18. He told officers they last saw TY May 19 at Silver Lake, leaving him there after an argument.
When officers resumed searching the farmstead June 21, they found blood splatter in the shed, a wooden handle with what appeared to be blood on it, and possible human remains in a garbage bag buried behind a garage.
When told about the findings at the farmstead, Jensen told officers Westcott was the one who killed TY with a cinder block and a stick. He said he was “pretty drunk” at the time. He acknowledged helping to dispose the body, but denied taking part in the killing.
On June 22, investigators found another burial site with what appeared to be human remains, according to court documents. Chief Deputy Stephen Landsem said confirming the identity of the remains found at the farmstead might take up to a week.
On Monday, District Judge Michael Fritz approved both Jensen and Westcott to be represented by a public defender. Attempts to speak with their attorneys were unsuccessful.
Jensen and Westcott are each being held on $2 million bail for unconditional release, or $1 million bail with conditions of release, which include abstaining from alcohol, staying within Minnesota unless otherwise approved and remaining law-abiding.
Their next hearing is set for 10 a.m. Friday, July 6.