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In the spring ofyear-old, William Gummer was walking into the state penitentiary in Bismarck, where he was sentenced to spend the rest of his life. Meanwhile, not far away from where the murder happened, a young man named Ralph Croal was working as a clerk in the Cass County court that spring. The year-old was a proud graduate of Fargo High class ofan avid baseball fan and preparing to marry his sweetheart Clara Hanson that summer.

Would the life sentence of William Gummer be considered justice served or would we later look back at him and think of him as a man wrongly convicted?

'murder in room ' new prosecutor 'convinced' convicted man is innocent in s fargo slaying

Murder in Room 30 - The Killing of Marie Wick is a four-part podcast which examines the slaying of a young woman in a downtown Fargo hotel. She was found dead in her hotel room on June 7, Hotel clerk WIlliam Gummer was arrested, convicted and sentenced for the crime.

Gummer professed his innocence from the day police showed interest in him. He thought they rushed to judgement and failed to look into a mystery man named James Farrell who ed the hotel registry that night, then disappeared. Swenson fought tirelessly for years to get Gummer out of jail. Swenson agreed Gummer did not commit the assault and murder and fought tooth and nail to earn Gummer a pardon. But the pleas would fall on deaf ears until a new states attorney took over in Cass County.

'i'm not guilty of this'

Ralph Croal took office in17 years after Gummer was sent to prison. As he reviewed the evidence in the brutal crime, he started to come to the same conclusion as Swenson, perhaps the prosecution did rush to judgement all those years ago and maybe they got it all wrong. Hotel clerk William Gummer was arrested in connection with the murder of Marie Wick.

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Forum archives. The two men met over the next 18 years, trying to strategize about how to get Gummer pardoned.

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Gummer took and passed a lie detector test, they made appeals to the North Dakota Supreme Court and the state board of pardons. All were rejected. Gummer remained in jail. He was 23 when he walked into prison and 41 when his last pardon was denied. But inSwenson opted for another tactic.

More handwriting evidence

According to the U. Department of Justice, a commutation "reduces a sentence, either totally or partially, but does not change the fact of conviction, imply innocence or remove civil disabilities, such as the right to vote or to hold public office. Under North Dakota state law, no prisoner serving a life sentence is eligible for a reduction of his or her sentence until that person has served half of their life expectancy. It was determined that date would be October for Gummer. So the fight began to garner enough support and evidence to petition the pardon board for the commutation.

Ralph Croal had been digging into the Gummer case since while he was still an assistant states attorney. But the real breakthrough came inwhen a man in Denver named Arthur James apparently bragged to some friends that he and his friend Blackie Carter also known as Paul Welch murdered a girl at a hotel in Fargo around the same time of Wick's murder. He joked that a clerk named William Gummer was doing life for their crime. Three people ed affidavits verifying they heard James making that confession. An artist's sketch of victim Marie Wick.

But could Blackie Carter be James Farrell? Croal teamed up with Swenson to find out.

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They traveled to St. Paul where Carter was operating a service station. Croal, Swenson and Twin Cities law enforcement drove up to the service station to talk to Carter. He denied committing the crime. But all three men say they thought he was lying.

He admitted he was in Fargo that night and that the day following the murder he traveled to Minot. So then does it add up that he indeed could be James Farrell who could not be found the next day? Handwriting analysts were called in to assess the similarity between James Farrell, Andy Brown and Black Carter's atures.

The analysts ruled both Brown and Carter could have ed Farrell's name. But perhaps more interesting was seeing how Carter wrote the hometown James Farrell wrote in the registry. Even so Croal said they could not arrest Carter because at that time, "he could not be convicted of the crime except on evidence that is just as circumstantial, or perhaps more so," than the evidence upon which Gummer was convicted in While Croal might have been frustrated not to arrest Carter, he felt at least there was enough evidence to question whether Gummer really belonged in prison.

So we go back to where this story started: a small farm outside Grygla, Minnesota as an aging couple faces another Christmas without their Marie.

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Hans and Katrina Wick faced the tragedy of the death of their teenage daughter, Marie, in Inthe farm couple from Grygla, Minnesota had to face the possiblity the man convicted of the murder could walk free.

Hans and Katrina Wick struggled with the thought that the man convicted of killing their oldest daughter might soon walk free.

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Somewhat surprising however, is that neither Hans nor Katrina Wick was thoroughly convinced Gummer was guilty, but they suspected he might know who did do it. They should keep him there. Wick would be disappointed. He would walk out of prison later that month. Even though a commutation does not turn a guilty verdict to innocent, the pardon board seemed to hint that Gummer might have been innocent based upon his favorable lie detector test as well as statements made by Carter and James.

On Dec. At 23, he agreed for a long sit down interview with a newspaper reporter to state his case, hoping it would do some good. He also did not reveal any future plans to anyone, but was taken, at his request, to the Bismarck Bus Depot where he reportedly boarded a Fargo-bound bus.

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It closed a little over a year after the murder. It was later torn down and is now a parking lot. The Prescott Hotel couldn't survive the scandal of the murder. It closed its doors a short time later. The building later became the YWCA, but was eventually torn down. Perhaps after he got off the bus, Gummer stopped into the states attorney office to thank Croal for his efforts or check up on the case or maybe he just grabbed a sandwich and a cup of coffee and took another bus home to see his family in Mayville, hoping to never think about the case again.

However, their hopes were undoubtedly dashed just six years later, when Carter, 54 and farming in Wisconsin, agreed to take a lie detector test and undergo truth serum sessions. The man who administered the sessions, Professor C. Ralph Croal went on to have a successful and "notable" career according to this graphic in The Fargo Forum.

Carter went back to his farm in Wisconsin. He continued to seek justice until his death just eight years later in The likelihood of a conviction after their deaths was extremely low. What happened to Gummer after he was last seen getting on that bus for Fargo?

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It turns out he would live another 37 years after his release from prison. But what did he do? And were they good years, or was he plagued by his time in the state penitentiary? According to his obituary in the newspaper, William went on to get married and become a barber after getting out of prison. He died in According to newspaper reports, Gummer began working as a barber shortly after his release.

A newlywed at 56, he never had children. He retired as a barber in and lived in Montana and Grand Forks.

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He died on June 23, at the age of 82 and is buried in a cemetery in Mayville, N. In photos of Gummer in his later years, he simply looks like a more weathered, slightly wrinkled and grayer version of the mugshot taken the first day at the penitentiary.

Was it a personality flaw, a hint of an evil lothario who preyed on women? Or was it just a smile that changed his life forever? This podcast can also be found under "The Vault" at inforum.

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Search for it using "The Vault and Forum. Trending Articles. Crime and Courts. The Vault 'Murder in Room ' New prosecutor 'convinced' convicted man is innocent in s Fargo slaying After years of research, interviews and a boastful confession by another man, the new lead prosecutor fights to make sure justice is finally served in the death of Marie Wick and conviction of William Gummer. Written By: Tracy Briggs am, Jun. After years, attorneys debated whether William Gummer was guilty of the crime.

Listen to the podcast here:. Suggested Articles. The Vault. Businesses To Follow.