North Dakota Man Who Told Cops Wife Died After Tripping, Falling on Stairs Charged with Murder

Spencer and Sonja Moen
Spencer and Sonja Moen. GoFundMe/Twitter

A North Dakota man has been arrested and charged with murder in connection with his wife's death after allegedly telling police the couple got into an argument and she fell face-first on the stairs.

According to Cass County Jail records, Spencer Moen is currently being held on charges of murder and contributing to the deprivation or delinquency of a minor. It's not immediately clear if he has entered a plea to those charges.

North Dakota District Court records show the 31-year-old was arraigned Monday and is due back in court for a preliminary hearing in late September. Moen was arrested last Thursday after officers responded to a medical emergency at the family's home, the West Fargo Police Department said in a statement.

Moen Told Cops His Wife Slept in the Bathtub and Didn't Wake Up

At around 7:38 a.m. Aug. 10, West Fargo police responded to a call regarding a woman who was not breathing at a home in the 1100 block of Eaglewood Avenue West.

When officers arrived at the scene, Moen told them that his wife Sonja Moen had decided to sleep in the bathtub and never woke up, police said, according to the local Grand Forks Herald newspaper.

Officers found Sonja Moen's body fully clothed in the bathtub. She had significant bruising on the left side of her face and forehead, and both of her eyes appeared swollen and shut. Sonja was declared dead at the scene, according to the newspaper.

The Herald reported that police claimed Moen had apparent bruising on his right hand and Sonja also allegedly had bruising on the back of her hands, which police said typically indicates defensive wounds.

When Asked About the Injuries Moen Told Investigators Sonja Tripped, 'Face-Planted' on Stairs

Moen then allegedly gave an interview to police where he said he and his wife were both intoxicated and got into an argument the previous night after she had picked him up after dark at a local golf course, authorities say.

Moen also told police he and his wife got into a physical altercation before his wife went to the bathroom to take a shower. He told police that after a time, he went into the bathroom and saw his wife in the bathtub. He said she was alive and making noises but wasn't talking.

He said he dumped water over her head to get her attention, but she didn't give a response and remained in the tub. He said he then went to bed and fell asleep. Moen said when he woke up later, he found his wife still in the bathtub and cold to the touch and when she was still unresponsive, he dialled 911.

Autopsy Revealed Cause of Death as Blunt Force Trauma

Preliminary autopsy findings indicated Sonja Moen suffered from a subdural hematoma and died from blunt-force trauma to her head. She suffered at least one fractured rib.The murder charge alleges Moen intentionally or knowingly caused the death of his wife, or willfully caused her death under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life.

Court records show Moen was arrested in 2019 on a felony assault charge. Moen had pleaded not guilty and that case was dismissed. Sonja had three children, according to a GoFundMe set up by the family to help raise money for her kids. If found guilty of the murder charge, , Moen faces a maximum of life in prison without parole.

He made his first court appearance Monday afternoon via closed-circuit TV from the Cass County Jail. Conditions for release were set at $1 million cash-only bail.