“You still have your life. Don’t waste it.”
Stephanie Eggerud uttered those words to Brandon Jorgenson as he was sentenced Monday, May 10 in connection with the March 2020 overdose death of Eggerud’s husband, Ryan.
Jorgenson, 38, Thief River Falls, was sentenced to 86 months in prison for a felony charge of third-degree murder. Jorgenson was given credit for 317 days served. He was ordered to send a letter of apology to each of Eggerud’s five children. Judge Tamara Yon ordered a lifetime ban on the use or possession of firearms, ammunition or explosives. Jorgenson was also ordered to pay $210 in fees and fines.
As part of a plea agreement, a related felony charge of third-degree controlled substance crime – sale – was dismissed. Another unrelated case was also dismissed. Those charges involved fifth-degree possession of a controlled substance and methamphetamine-related crimes involving children.
The case continues to proceed against Timothy Andrew Roy, 33, Bemidji. He has been charged with third-degree murder. Roy is currently incarcerated at the state prison in Lino Lakes on an unrelated drug charge. A contested omnibus hearing in Roy’s case is scheduled for Tuesday, June 1.
The charges stemmed from the death of Ryan Oscar Eggerud, 37, at his Thief River Falls home. Eggerud had died of “mixed drug toxicity due to fentanyl and methamphetamine,” according to the complaints.
Roy is accused of selling the drug mixture to Jorgenson, who then provided some of the mixtures to Eggerud.
The sentencing hearing was held virtually Monday in Pennington County District Court.
“March 21, 2020, was a day that changed our lives forever,” said Stephanie Eggerud, who noted her 6-year-old daughter said her dad was lying on the bathroom floor asleep. She remains haunted by seeing her husband that way and prays that their daughter was young enough to not remember finding him.
Eggerud recalls the looks on each of her children’s faces as they were told that their father had died. “Bedtime is the toughest time,” said Eggerud, who has found herself many times comforting at least one of them.
Despite her husband’s struggles, Eggerud said that he loved his children. He is missing the opportunity to share their achievements in sports, music, and acting.
Eggerud said she has attended therapy. She has also missed work due to her depression and anxiety after her husband’s death. The two of them had been friends for more than 20 years and married for 10.
One of Ryan Eggerud’s friends was Jorgenson, who is the godfather of one of the Eggerud girls. Stephanie Eggerud had asked that Jorgenson write a letter of apology to each child to explain what had happened and why it happened. She anticipated providing those letters to the children if and when they want to learn more.
Eggerud said this is an opportunity for Jorgenson to change the direction of his life. She encouraged Jorgenson to not use her husband’s death as an excuse to continue living this lifestyle.
When given the opportunity to speak, Jorgenson said he had thought many times about what had happened and what he wanted to say to Stephanie Eggerud. However, at the moment of his sentencing, he said he couldn’t think of those words. “I’m just so sorry, Stephanie, so sorry for your kids,” he said.
Jorgenson, who cried throughout his sentencing, repeatedly told Eggerud he was sorry and covered his face with his handcuffed hands as he cried. “I’m so sorry,” said Jorgenson. “That’s all I can say.”
Yon noted it was an emotional time for those involved. Echoing Eggerud’s victim impact statement, she told Jorgenson, “You have a life ahead of you, and I hope that you’re able to get on a different path.”
The charges stemmed from a 911 call on March 21, 2020, at the Eggeruds’ home. The caller reported that Eggerud had been found in a bathroom and it was believed that he was dead. An ambulance crew member determined that Ryan Eggerud had been deceased for some time.
Near Eggerud’s body, investigators found a cap for a hypodermic needle. After his body was removed from the area, a hypodermic needle was found underneath where he had been located. A police officer found a bindle containing a substance that later allegedly tested positive for fentanyl and meth.
Police learned from Stephanie Eggerud that her husband had left their home around 5 p.m. a night earlier to visit a friend at Cedar Lodge in Thief River Falls. She didn’t know the name of the friend. She said he returned about three-and-a-half hours later. The next morning, she awoke to their daughter saying that Ryan Eggerud was believed to be asleep in the bathroom.
Looking at Eggerud’s cell phone, police determined that he had been in contact with Jorgenson a day earlier. They knew that Jorgenson rented an apartment there. Police soon obtained video surveillance, showing the couple’s van and Eggerud being dropped off at that location. His wife later admitted that she had dropped him off there.
Based on that information, police executed a search warrant for Jorgenson’s room, Number 17, at 7:29 p.m. March 21, 2020. Jorgenson provided a statement to police, saying he, Eggerud, and another man had gone to a home near Goodridge to buy controlled substances. He said they believed they were purchasing heroin, but Jorgenson said it was too potent to be heroin. Jorgenson said he and Eggerud began using the substance on the way back to Thief River Falls. He said he would be able to identify the seller if a photo lineup was provided.
The police investigator met with Jorgenson to show him the photo lineup on March 23, 2020. At that point, he identified the seller as Roy and said Roy lived in Bemidji. Jorgenson said he believed that the substance was fentanyl or another controlled substance, not heroin as he had initially thought.
Another investigator then contacted the Paul Bunyan Drug Task Force since the drugs had been purchased in Bemidji. He learned that the task force was investigating Roy and had a search warrant ready for Roy’s home. Upon learning about Roy’s connection to Eggerud’s overdose death, the task force executed the search warrant. The task force allegedly found about 164 grams of suspected fentanyl in Roy’s home.
Roy allegedly later told the Thief River Falls police investigator that he believed the mixture was fentanyl, but he was unsure. He said he had used the drug and knew it was strong.
Roy allegedly said he sold the drugs to Jorgenson and another man, who isn’t listed earlier in this article. He sold two pieces of the drug – for $50 each – to each man in Bemidji. Roy said Eggerud wasn’t present during the sale. When asked, he said he knew about Eggerud’s death. Roy denied knowing what the substance contained, but he admitted it was a strong drug. The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension later determined the substance was a mixture of fentanyl and meth.
Police later corroborated Roy’s statement after observing messages on Jorgenson’s phone. They also learned from Eggerud’s wife that he was home at the time of the sale.
On April 1, 2020, a PBDTF commander reported that Roy and a female were discussing Eggerud’s overdose during a phone call at the Beltrami County Jail. At that time, Roy allegedly admitted that he sold the drug to Jorgenson, who then provided it to Eggerud.
Later that day, the Thief River Falls police investigator performed a traffic stop on a vehicle being driven by the man who was alleged with Jorgenson during the sale. He initially denied giving Jorgenson a ride to Roy’s home that day; however, he later said he had driven Jorgenson to Bemidji. The man said Eggerud hadn’t accompanied them.