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Kelly Boldan, Forum Communications, Published July 18 2012

VIDEO: Former Grand Forks resident, murder suspect found dead in plane

A former Grand Forks resident accused of killing a woman in Colorado Springs, Colo., was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound Tuesday in an empty passenger plane after he apparently tried to steal the plane from a small Utah airport.

Brian Hedglin, 40, was a SkyWest Airlines pilot. Police believe he killed his ex-girlfriend, Christina Cornejo, 39. Both lived in Colorado Springs.

Police had been searching for Hedglin since Friday when they found Cornejo’s body. An officer found his body after encountering an idling motorcycle at St. George Municipal Airport. Looking for the motorcycle’s owner, the officer found an idling plane with Hedglin’s body inside.

Among Hedglin’s past addresses were UND’s McVey Hall and two other residences in Grand Forks between October 1990 and June 1994, according to the legal research service Lexis.

Calls to UND’s School of Aerospace Sciences were not returned Tuesday. An official from SkyWest was not able to confirm any information about Hedglin’s education or training.

Hedglin was a 1990 honors graduate of Willmar (Minn.) High School. Several former classmates confirmed Tuesday night that he was the man in news reports of the suicide.

Forum Communications archives indicate he planned to study aviation at UND.

Security breach

Hedglin used a rug to scale the razor wire-topped security fence at the airport overnight Tuesday and drove off with the SkyWest jet, St. George city spokesman Marc Mortenson told the Associated Press.

He said Hedglin clipped a wing on the terminal building and crashed into cars in a parking lot; the plane never left the ground.

After an officer found Hedglin’s motorcycle around 12:50 a.m. and encountered the idling plane, a SkyWest employee arrived to turn off the plane engine. Hedglin was found inside with a gunshot wound to his head.

Mortenson said the airport is surrounded by 6 miles of perimeter fencing, and that the facility meets all federal requirements.

He said the entire perimeter isn’t observed at all times, “and I would dare say it isn’t at any airport in the country.”

Restraining order

SkyWest spokeswoman Marissa Snow said Hedglin was a pilot for the airline but had been on administrative leave since July 13, the same day police found Cornejo’s body.

Police checked on Cornejo at the request of her family and found she had been stabbed multiple times.

The Gazette of Colorado Springs, citing court records, reported that Hedglin dated Cornejo for four years and was arrested in March after police say he had been harassing her.

The records show that a restraining order was issued against Hedglin in March, and he was set for trial in August. He was free on $10,000 bond.

Attorney Steven Rodemer, who represented Hedglin in that case, said he was facing misdemeanor charges of criminal mischief, theft and harassment, but felony charges were dismissed Thursday.

Hedglin was also a member of the Colorado National Guard, where he was a part-time soldier who worked as a cook. He had no specialized military training and was never deployed, Capt. Darin Overstreet said.

SkyWest officials said the CRJ200 plane Hedglin stole was not in service at the time.


Ashley White, Donna Middleton and Chris Bieri of Forum Communications contributed to this report.