Man tied to slain ND family held by immigration

By James MacPherson
Bismarck, North Dakota (AP) February 2011

A Somali man with a history of violent crime has been interviewed as “a person of interest” in the deaths of his daughter’s mother and three others and is being held by U.S. immigration officials, authorities said last week.

Omar Mohamed Kalmio, 26, is the father of an infant girl found alive last week in the Minot apartment of 19-year-old Sabrina Zephier, who was found dead last week, Minot Police Chief Jeff Balentine told The Associated Press. Sabrina Zephier’s mother, Jolene Zephier, 38; brother, Dillon Zephier, 13; and Jolene Zephier’s boyfriend, Jeremy Longie, 22, were found slain in nearby mobile home less than an hour later.

“We have interviewed (Kalmio), and he is a person of interest,” Balentine said.

Shawn Neudauer, a spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said Kalmio was arrested last week in Minot for failing to abide by the terms of supervised release stemming from an assault charge. He declined to give details, citing privacy issues.

Minnesota court records show Kalmio was convicted in 2006 of second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon, a felony, and sentenced to one year and one day in prison with credit for 143 days served. Kalmio and a group of other Somali men attacked a man in Minneapolis in January 2006, and Kalmio stabbed him three times in the back with a knife, according to a criminal complaint in the case. The victim also was stabbed in the face and shoulder and suffered a collapsed lung and concussion.

That same year, Kalmio was convicted of theft and ordered to pay a fine. Court records show he lived in the Twin Cities suburb of Eagan when the crimes happened.

Minneapolis police said they have had no contact with Kalmio since 2006.

Kalmio had been ordered to report to immigration officials in Grand Forks last August but failed to do so, Neudauer said.

Kalmio, who was being held in the Grand Forks jail, has been in the custody of immigration agents before. ICE issued a statement saying Kalmio was released from custody in May 2010 as a result of rules stemming from a 2001 U.S. Supreme Court decision.

That decision required a court review before immigrants convicted of certain crimes could be deported, a process that had been automatic before. The decision also said criminals with no country to accept them couldn’t be jailed indefinitely.

Somalia has not had a functioning government since 1991.

ICE officials would not comment on whether they tried and failed to deport Kalmio, citing privacy rules.

Balentine said police intend to interview Kalmio again. He said Kalmio had been living in Minot but had been working in the northwest North Dakota city of Williston.

The Zephiers were members of South Dakota’s Yankton Sioux Tribe. Officials have said they and Longie died after being shot. Their bodies were sent to Bismarck last week for autopsies, and police are waiting for the results, Balentine said.

He would not comment on a possible motive for the slayings.


Associated Press writer Amy Forliti in Minneapolis contributed to this report.