Motley man admits murdering girlfriend

Harold Wassather pleaded guilty to one count of murder in the second degree without intent.

Morrison County Sheriff Squad close

LITTLE FALLS — A 61-year-old Motley man pleaded guilty to the 2022 murder of his 66-year-old girlfriend at the couple’s home near Motley.

Harold Wassather pleaded guilty to one count of murder in the second degree without intent Jan. 26 in Morrison County District Court in connection with the death of Christine Nygard. The charge carries a maximum prison sentence of 40 years.

Harold Wassather
Morrison County booking photo of Harold Wassather.

Wassather was initially also charged with one count of first-degree murder while committing domestic abuse with a past pattern of domestic abuse and a second count of murder in the second degree. The other two charges were dropped as part of a plea deal in which Wassather waived his right to a trial.

Wassather is due to be sentenced in Morrison County District Court on April 4.

From the criminal complaint

According to the criminal complaint filed against Wassather, on the morning of March 6, 2022, the Morrison County Sheriff’s Office received a phone call from a man who said during a phone call Wassather told him that he killed his live-in girlfriend, later identified as Nygard, in a trailer home off Highway 10, south of Motley.


Deputies responded to the home and, using a squad car’s PA system, told Wassather to come out of the residence with his hands up. Wassather, crying with his hands up in the air, walked out of the residence. He told deputies his girlfriend was dead and he killed her, the complaint said.

After Wassather was handcuffed, officers entered the residence and located the body of Nygard lying on a bed in a bedroom, covered with a bed sheet up to her neck. Officers noted her face was covered in dark bruises.

Wassather stated that he moved in with Nygard in December 2021.

During an interview with law enforcement, he started to cry and said he did not mean to kill Nygard but beat her up after she accused him of talking to other women. The assault included dragging her around the house, banging her head on the floor and cabinets, and slapping and punching her.

After a time Nygard lost consciousness and stopped breathing, Weather told law enforcement. Wassather then brought Nygard to the bedroom and placed her in the bed and covered her up.

Wassather said he didn’t want her to die but also admitted under questioning that he did not call 911 or ask anyone for help. Wassather said he called his friend a day or so after the assault, so his friend could come and gather some of his stuff so he could turn himself in. Wassather admitted to having prior physical domestic assaults with Nygard, but said they were never reported to law enforcement.

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