Case of the Month: Eric Haider from Bismarck, North Dakota, who went missing from his job site on May 24, 2012. Eric was only 30 years old and he left behind a huge circle of friends and a heartbroken family including a young daughter.
Eric Haider worked for a company called Cofell’s Plumbing and Heating. At the time that he went missing in 2012, Eric was working on a job site east of the Baker Hughes building in Dickinson, ND. In 2015, human remains, later determined to be his, were found about half a mile southwest of that particular job site. The remains were found in a 6-foot deep hole at a construction site in Dickinson, ND.
After Eric disappeared, the authorities received many tips from the public but none led to leads that they could use to solve the case of this missing man. People wondered whether Eric Haider had walked away from his life and his job. This was most unlikely. The possessions that he left did not indicate that he had planned to disappear. He was also father to a young daughter.
Suggestions were raised that Eric was killed by accident. Was he hit with machinery on the job site? Do we know what type of machines were used that day that could have caused his death? If this indeed happened it would be likely that people saw and knew about this. If so, why didn’t anyone come forward especially those in charge of the machine if it was accidental? How did they know they need not call an ambulance? Could Eric have been hit and then buried somewhere to cover up his accidental death? Was the company properly insured for these events? Did Eric have any enemies who saw an opportunity to kill and bury him on a work site hoping that the final construction would forever hide his final resting place?
Eric Haider’s friends thought that it was “a job site accident” and that Eric was buried at the construction site “likely inadvertently.” That however does not seem to match with the way his remains were found. The remains found were crouched down in an upright position as if Eric was sitting down pulling up his knees and hugging them with his arm. This would almost be a “protective child position.” Maybe I misunderstand the “crouched upright position” so if anyone can elaborate on that, I’d appreciate it.
The authorities started an excavation site in the area at the construction site where Eric Haider was working the day that he disappeared. According to his friends, they were not looking in the right spot. “There was a witness who said the area where (authorities) dug was not the same location where they were working that day.” This makes me curious about the possible use of cadaver dogs. If anyone knows they were used, please let me know.
On May 22, 2015, human remains were found. They were “relatively intact and found in the crouched upright position near an underground utility pipeline” according to a statement released by Dickinson Police Capt. Joe Cianni.
“A positive identification of the body was not possible at the scene due to the extent of the decomposition of the body and the deterioration of the related clothing,” Cianni’s statement read. “Nothing unusual or suspicious was unearthed during the exhumation.”
The remains were later indeed identified as Eric Haider’s based on his medical records, his distinguishable tattoos, and the personal effects found in the clothing that was still on the body. The cause of death was undetermined.
It was said that forensic medical examinations would continue and that further information would be released as soon as it became available from the North Dakota State Forensic Medical Examiner’s Office.
The full press release from the Dickinson police reads as follows:
“Today the Dickinson Police Department received notification from the North Dakota State Forensic Medical Examiner’s Office that a positive identification of the human remains exhumed on Friday, May 22, 2015, in the area of 40 ST E and 4 Ave E, in Dickinson, ND, has been made. The body has been determined to be that of 30yoa Eric C. Haider, missing since Saturday, May 24, 2012. Positive identification was made possible through medical records, distinguishable tattoos, and personal effects found in clothing associated with the body. The actual cause of death has not been determined at this point. The forensic medical examination will continue and further information will be released as it becomes available from the North Dakota State Forensic Medical Examiner’s Office. No other questions will be answered at this time.”
Detective Kylan Klauzer
From the papers: “Haider’s mother, Maryellen Suchan, told Rapid City, S.D., TV station KOTA that her son’s body was well preserved, and his wallet and cellphone were found on the body.”
Some more of my thoughts about this strange case:
A: I’d like to know whether Eric Haider’s wallet has been tested for (touch) DNA. Leather can be tested with the M-Vac.
B: Did digital forensics find anything on the cell phone that can shed a light on his disappearance?
C: Eric was found in a “crouched upright position.” If he did so himself he was most likely under threat to do so. If he was placed in that position after dying his clothes should be checked with the M-Vac to see if touch DNA was left by those who placed him in that position.
D: I am also curious about his lung and stomach content (debris, etc.) that could give us more information about the manner in which he died.
E: the width of the hole could give us clues about materials used to dig that hole. What were the surroundings like?
This case raises so many questions. We may have found Eric’s remains but we are not nearly done with this investigation.
In the series “Case of the Month” I highlight cold cases. These posts are not an in-depth analysis and of course, sometimes more information can be found online and in newspaper archives. The goal of these posts is to get the cases back in the spotlights, to get people talking again, and if anything to make sure that we do not forget the victims. Just because their cases are cold does not mean that we can forget about them.
If you have any thoughts about the Eric Haider case I encourage you to post them on your own social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, etc. Every time that we mention Eric’s name online we enhance his digital footprint.
We must make sure that Eric retains a web presence if we ever wish to find answers in his case. You can help by linking to or sharing this post.
Thank you for remembering Eric Haider with us.