Anders Odegaard is a Minnesota lawyer and former state’s attorney from North Dakota who is accused of beating his ex-wife Carissa Odegaard to death as she held their 2-year-old child.
“To all of our dear friends – we have had a horrible tragedy strike our family,” Carissa’s grandfather, Gerald Nilsen, wrote on Facebook on August 24, 2022. “Our oldest granddaughter was pronounced brain-dead tonight. She has five children ages nine to three. We were present when the children were told that their mama was dead by a professional at the hospital. That was traumatic for all. We need your prayers and strength from God’s hand. I will get back to my regular writing as quickly as I can.”
They had five children together. Anders Odegaard was fired from several legal positions, and the couple divorced in 2021, with him losing physical custody of the kids, court records show.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Two of the Children Ran to Find Help as Their Father Choked Their Mom, Authorities Say
According to KARE11, Anders, 31, is accused of second-degree murder in the fatal beating of his ex-wife, which occurred in front of their kids on Tuesday, August 23, 2022. Carissa originally lived, but she had “no significant brain function” and later died, the television station reported.
A criminal complaint obtained by KARE11 says that the five kids, ages 2 through 9, were staying with their dad when Carissa came to pick them up for church.
They told police the parents got into a “big fight,” with the dad choking the mom and tackling her. The mother told the kids to “call 911.” The complaint says Carissa was holding the 2 year old boy at the time.
Two of the kids ran outside to find help, flagging down a stranger and telling the person “their mom was bleeding really bad and needed help,” KARE11 reported. 911 was called, and when a deputy responded, Anders Odegaard had “blood in his hair” and said he did not “feel right.” He was in the kitchen wearing his underwear, according to The New York Post, which said Carissa was found in a doorway and one of the children describing seeing his father hit her with a knife or spatula in the head.
According to the complaint, “both the kids that saw the assault take place said they saw their father on top of their mother hitting her or choking her,” the television station reported.
Heavy has reached out to the Marshall County Sheriff’s Department in Warren, Minnesota, for additional details.
Court records obtained by Heavy show that the couple filed for divorce in 2021. The records show that, at one point, there was a request for a custody evaluator in the divorce and Anders sought to withdraw the divorce petition, but Carissa kept it going. You can see that court record here.
It said that Anders was representing himself in court. The records say, “Mr. Odegaard indicated that he would not consent to service, nor would he agree to service by mail” and indicated he also objected to the custody evaluator.
The couple was married in 2011 in Moorhead, Minnesota, and their divorce went through in September 2021, according to court records. They confirm the couple had five children born between 2013 and 2019; at the time of the divorce, Anders had a North Dakota address.
The mother was granted sole physical custody with the father having reasonable visitation time. The mother was described as self-employed, taking college courses, and earning $1,000 a month. The father earned more than $6,100 a month working for the Mercer County State’s Attorney’s office in North Dakota. The divorce records did not outline many assets but did outline loans and credit card debt.
Shortly thereafter, Anders was sued for more than $11,000 by a bank.
2. A GoFundMe Page Is Raising Money to Help Carissa’s Children
There is a GoFundMe page to help Carissa’s children and pay for her funeral expenses.
The fundraiser, by Jessica Ford, reads, “This horrible tragedy will not be lost on our community. Carissa’s mom friends, community and family will miss her dearly and hope this will help to honor her name.”
One woman who donated money wrote, “Carissa and all her kiddos are in my thoughts and prayers. I loved having that whole crew come to the library for storytime and for summer reading program.”
A post on Carissa’s Facebook page about the GoFundMe account reads,
Many people have reached out to me asking if they can help in any way! There is a lot going on right now but Carissa’s friend made this page if anyone is interested in helping in this way! Once things have settled down a little bit frozen meals would take a lot of stress off. If you message me I’ll send you my address and times that I’ll be home. We are going to ask that they be delivered to my place so we don’t disturb the kids lives with people in and out. We will cross that bridge after the funeral though. Thank you everyone for the outpouring of love in this tough time!
3. Anders Odegaard Once Worked as a State’s Attorney in North Dakota
According to Fox 11, Anders once worked as the Mercer County State’s Attorney in North Dakota.
The Mercer County State’s Attorney’s Office told the television station that Odegaard held the job for three months, when he was fired in 2021. He then worked as a public defender and was fired again, before moving back to Minnesota, where he was in private practice, Fox 11 reported.
Anders Odegaard is listed as a lawyer on the North Dakota courts website, which says he was admitted to the bar there in 2017.
He went to law school at the University of North Dakota, and he practiced in Warren, Minnesota, the site says.
According to KFGO, Anders worked for North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem from April 30, 2018 to November 23, 2019 but was fired for cause.
He attended State Investment Board meetings and then worked with the state Insurance Department before resigning in 2020.
4. Friends Wrote That They Missed Carissa’s ‘Sweetness’
Friends filled Carissa’s Facebook page with tributes. “My heart breaks 😢for your family for your children for your friends .. I love you girl. Thanks for every talk every prayer and encouraging word,” read one. “I will cherish them in my heart always 😘miss your sweetness and Talks.”
On Facebook, Carissa filled her page with pictures of her kids. One photo from April showed her young son carrying a bouquet of flowers. “We walked by the flowers at Target…’Mommy needs flowers. Her old flowers went dead. I buy the rainbow flowers for mommy,'” the caption read.
In 2017, her in-laws wrote on her Facebook page, “Happy Mother’s Day,Carissa!! Thank you for being such an amazing wife & mom to our son & Grandsons!! We love & appreciate you very much!! Hope you’re getting some spoiling today❤”
5. Carissa Odegaard Had Her Own Photography Business
Carissa’s Facebook page says she studied at Rasmussen University and lived in East Grand Forks, Minnesota. She worked as a photographer.
Her photography page read, “Natural light photographer in the East Grand Forks, MN area specializing in Babies, Children & Families.”
A post on July 18 read,
Hello! It’s been a minute since I have updated this page! I have been back in the Grand Forks area for a little over a year now. I have done a few sessions for friends over that time but it’s time for me to get back to business! I will be having some mini sessions over the fall. One will be taking place in a brand new space, Midtown Marketplace! I will also be having some outdoor sessions available as all. Stay tuned for those announcements!
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