FARGO — The man found dead and badly burned in a Fargo home on Feb. 22 served nearly 30 years in prison for stabbing his wife to death in Grand Forks in 1982.
Ronald Alvin Gant, 61, pleaded guilty in 1983 to murdering his wife Mary Louise Gant and was sentenced to 43 years in prison. He was released in 2011.
On Feb. 22, Gant's body was found in the basement of a home at 1809 30th Ave. S., where a fire had occurred, according to Fargo police.
Officials said Gant was house-sitting and was discovered by the homeowners when they returned from vacation. It is unknown when the fire happened and how long the homeowners were gone for.
The cause of the fire and Gant's death are still under investigation. An early report said there was no evidence of smoking in the home. Fargo Police Sgt. Mike Bernier told reporters at the scene that it was "hard to say" whether or not it was a suspicious death.
The Forum confirmed that the man found dead was a convicted murderer after learning that personal information provided by Fargo police matched information in Gant's Burleigh County divorce records. While still incarcerated in 1995, he filed for divorce with Nicki Kay Gant, a woman he had married while in the North Dakota State Penitentiary in Bismarck.
The North Dakota Parole Board approved Gant for release in 2011, after he had served 27 years of his sentence. He had originally been denied parole in 2004 because of the seriousness of his crime, but the board told the Grand Forks Herald in 2009 that good behavior laws mandated his release.