Father of man accused of double murder: 'He’s not an animal'

Emily Welker, INFORUM
David George Stevens

FARGO – David George Stevens called 911 early Saturday morning, telling dispatchers he had just stabbed his ex-girlfriend in her north Fargo apartment, according to court documents released along with double murder charges filed Monday against Stevens.

It wasn’t the first call from that location – 1105 7th Ave. N. Moments earlier, a woman had called 911 saying she’d been stabbed.

While Stevens was on the phone with Red River Regional Dispatchers, telling them he’d also killed a man who was with his former girlfriend, the first officer on the scene was flagged down by Stevens’ wife, April.

According to the documents, April Stevens told police she’d driven her husband to Samantha Wickenheiser’s apartment – the pair had left Brookings, S.D., at 11 p.m. for Fargo – so he could pick up his clothes. He had been living with Wickenheiser and their two sons, but the two had recently broken up.

Two minutes after David Stevens left the car, Wickenheiser came out of the apartment covered in blood and tried to get into the car, April Stevens said. Instead of letting Wickenheiser in, she backed up the car and drove around the side of the apartment building to the main en-trance.

Susan Dealing, the first officer on the scene, found the 23-year-old Wickenheiser lying in the parking lot, a serrated knife stuck in the left side of her head.

The body of Ward Allen Berg, 30, Moorhead, was discovered across the street. The tires on both the victims’ vehicles had been slashed.

At the scene, David Ste-vens refused to speak further with officers, telling dispatchers he had brought a knife with him for protection.

Stevens was charged Monday in Cass County District Court with the murder of both Wickenheiser and Berg. Both charges against him are Class AA felonies.

Prosecutor Tristan Van de Streek said his office did not have an open case against April Stevens in connection with the murders, and that he could not comment on other aspects of the investigation as long as the case was pending.

Van de Streek said in court that Stevens was a flight risk, and asked for $1 million in bail.

Judge Steven Marquart asked Stevens via interactive television if he wanted to ask that his bail be set lower, an offer Stevens declined.

“That sounds great,” he said of the $1 million bail.

Previous convictions

Court records reveal, among other crimes, a pattern of domestic and drug-related convictions against Stevens.

They include a conviction for violating a no-contact order with his wife and a conviction for terrorizing in Cass County Court, with both cases stemming from an incident in November 2010.

Court documents show that in December 2010, Stevens phoned April Stevens, in violation of a no-contact order that was granted after an incident the month before in which David Stevens told his wife he would kill her if she ever left him.

The threat was witnessed by a Fargo police officer who was at the couple’s home investigating a report of a physical domestic involving the pair.

A police report on the incident that was filed with the court stated that an officer also observed a large sheathed knife in the home and advised April Stevens it wasn’t safe to have the knife around the home with children present.

At that point, according to the report, a 7-year-old girl told the officer, “Daddy carries it (the knife) with him to protect him in case he needs to kill someone.”

The child then pulled a knife sharpener from a drawer and demonstrated how her father sharpened the knife, according to the police report, which stated there also was a 4-year-old child present in the apartment.

“All my sympathies to all the families involved. I feel sorry for all the children involved,” April Stevens said. “Me and Sam didn’t like each other at first. [But] we were getting along for the sake of the children.

She said she had not been able to contact Wickenheiser’s family, and asked that they get in touch with her, in order to bring together David Stevens’ children by her and by Wickenheiser. She did not want the children to grow up without knowing their siblings, she said.

“This is really, really hard,” she said.

According to Forum archives, Wickenheiser had two children with David Stevens: one in April 2012 and one this past July. Both were boys.

Father: ‘He has to pay for what he did’

David Stevens’ father, David Vaughn Stevens, a retired law enforcement officer for the Brazoria County (Texas) Sheriff’s Department, said he was worried about his grand-children.

He said he had been struggling with the news of what else could have been done to prevent the murders, after hearing about his son’s involve-ment Saturday.

“I have personally put him in jail before, myself,” the elder Stevens said. “I tried to help him with love, medically, legally… There’s something in some people that won’t accept help.”

Stevens said his son had been in and out of drug rehab programs since his teen years. He added that his son recently left his wife for Wickenheiser, who also struggled with drug issues. But he said he was reluctant to speak poorly of Wickenheiser, whom his son loved.

“I don’t condone what he did, don’t excuse what he did … He’s going to spend the rest of his life behind bars,” he said. “He has to pay for what he did.”

The elder Stevens said he did not believe his son had gone to Wickenheiser’s apartment with murder on his mind, although he acknowledged he had not spoken with his son in some time.

He believes his son went to Wickenheiser’s home Saturday night to keep tabs on her instead.

“There was no anger with anybody,” he said. “That’s why this thing totally shocked me.”

Stevens said he knew it was likely his son would be hated by many in the Fargo-Moorhead community, after the details of the case emerged.

“He’s human, and he has emotions – he’s not an animal,” he said. At this, the elder Stevens broke down in tears.

“All I’d like to say is, you love your children,” he said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Emily Welker at (701) 241-5541