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Published April 13 2012

Letters claim arson suspect was target

MOORHEAD – An anonymous, handwritten letter sent to The Forum alleges the rural Barnesville woman charged with starting her own home on fire last fall was actually the target of the arsons.

Investigators, who aren’t sure who sent the letter, have previously said the man fingered in the letter as being behind the fires has been ruled out as a suspect in the escalating series of suspected arsons that eventually destroyed Tara Andvik’s house in October.

The letter, postmarked on April 3 from Auburn, Wyo., was mailed to a Forum reporter. Its writer claims to have been offered $50,000 to make the 33-year-old Andvik “dissapre,” an apparent misspelling of the word “disappear.”

The letter states that Keith Beam, a 46-year-old Wisconsin man who is a TV producer who worked with Andvik on a hunting show for the Outdoor Channel, reneged on the deal because Andvik – a well-known bow hunter – “did not burn in the fire.”

“he wants her dead you cant stop him,” the writer of the letter claims in the 29-word message devoid of punctuation.

A phone message left for Beam on Friday night was not returned.

A similar letter was sent by an anonymous writer to Andvik’s defense attorney, Steve Mottinger, Detective Jason Hicks of the Clay County Sheriff’s Office told The Forum this week. A letter was also sent to Andvik, he said.

Hicks said Friday that the letters sent to The Forum and Mottinger were the same, with identical “misspelled words and everything,” though both were handwritten and not copies. But the third letter wasn’t identical, Hicks said.

“The one to Mrs. Andvik was different,” he said.

Hicks executed a search warrant Thursday at The Forum to obtain the letter. Because it’s unclear who wrote the letters, Hicks said they are being sent to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension for handwriting analysis.

Court records state that Andvik had suggested Beam as a suspect in the arsons after the two had received restraining orders against each other in the months leading up to the fires. Andvik also told investigators that animal-rights activists had threatened her and might have been responsible for the fire.

In Andvik’s August petition for a restraining order against Beam, she claimed he pressured her to move their relationship “from professional to intimate,” court records state.

As The Forum previously reported, Andvik said in the court petition that Beam called her home five to 10 times per day and sent more than 100 text and video messages of a sexual nature between November 2010 and July 20. She said in the petition that she was “frightened by (Beam’s) violent outbursts and verbal threats that he will ‘show up’ at her home.”

Beam’s attorneys said in court records that Andvik made repeated attempts to contact Beam after she got the restraining order, so he later got a restraining order barring her from contacting him. In his petition, Beam claimed he and Andvik were in a romantic relationship that ended in July.

After the fires in October, both Beam and Andvik agreed to drop the orders against each other.

Around the same time, Hicks said that Beam had been interviewed at length about the arsons and said “it’s safe to say he’s been ruled out” as a suspect. Authorities said his credit card bills indicated he

wasn’t in the area at the time of the fires.

Andvik, who bailed out of the Clay County Jail in December on $25,000 bond, is currently staying with her parents, per court orders. She faces three felony counts of first-degree arson in Clay County District Court, and her trial date is set for May 8.

Attempts to reach the Andviks for comment were unsuccessful, as phone numbers listed for the family were disconnected.

Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki and

WDAY-TV contributed to this report.


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Readers can reach Forum reporter Sam Benshoof at (701) 241-5535