Valentino Bagola Sentenced to Life in Prison for First-Degree Murders of Two Children on Spirit Lake Reservation
|U.S. Attorney’s Office December 16, 2013|
FARGO—U.S. Attorney Timothy Q. Purdon announced that on December 16, 2013, Valentino Bagola, 20, of St. Michael, North Dakota, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Ralph R. Erickson on two charges of first-degree murder.
Judge Erickson sentenced Bagola to life in prison on each of two counts of first-degree murder. The life sentences will be served concurrently. Bagola was convicted by a federal jury on September 23, 2013, for the May 19, 2011 stabbing deaths of 9-year-old Destiny Shaw and 6-year-old Travis DuBois, Jr. in St. Michael on the Spirit Lake Reservation.
In Fargo, U.S. Attorney Timothy Purdon said, “The life sentences imposed today cannot bring Destiny and Travis, Jr. back or undo any of the horror of these criminal acts. It does, however, provide some measure of justice to these victims, their family, and the Spirit Lake Community. It was this commitment to obtaining justice for Destiny and Travis, Jr. that kept us going in the 14-month search-for-the-truth between the discovery of the bodies of these children and the indictment in this case. It was this same desire that sustained our incredibly skilled trial team of Assistant United States Attorneys, trial support staff from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, FBI agents, and FBI Laboratory personnel through a grueling three-week trial. The resources and effort brought to bear on this investigation by the federal law enforcement agencies and the U.S. Attorney’s Office should leave no doubt as to the Department of Justice’s commitment to the cause of public safety in Indian country.”
In Minneapolis, Special Agent in Charge Chris Warrener, who heads the FBI’s Minneapolis Division that includes North Dakota said, ”The FBI remains steadfast in its commitment to ensuring that those who commit such horrific crimes on Spirit Lake Nation lands are brought to justice. We, along with our partners at the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Spirit Lake Tribal authorities, will continue in our efforts to safeguard public safety at Spirit Lake."
In the early morning hours of May 19, 2011, Bagola entered the Dubois/Shaw residence in the St. Michael housing area located on the Spirit Lake Indian Reservation. Bagola, an enrolled member of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux tribe, armed himself with a knife found in the residence and entered the bedroom of Destiny Shaw, age 9, and began to sexually assault her. At some point, Destiny’s brother, Travis Dubois, Jr., age 6, interrupted the sexual assault. Using the knife, Bagola stabbed Travis, Jr. approximately 60 times. Travis, Jr. died from these stab wounds. During the murder of Travis Dubois, Jr., the knife Bagola was using broke. Bagola then retrieved another knife from the residence and stabbed Destiny Shaw, inflicting approximately 40 stab wounds that led to her death.
After discovery of the bodies of the two child victims, a 14-month investigation ensued to identify the killer. This investigation was complicated by the fact that the children’s father falsely confessed to the killings in the days following the discovery of their bodies. The investigation included the thorough examination of a vast amount of forensic evidence gathered at the murder scene and law enforcement interviews of many individuals. Eventually, forensic analysis by the FBI Laboratory of DNA found under the fingernails of Destiny Shaw and of a bloody palm-print found at the murder scene identified Bagola as a suspect in the killings. Bagola was then interviewed by FBI agents, confessed to the sexual assault of Destiny Shaw and the murders of the two children, and relayed to the FBI agents non-public details that were known only to the killer.
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation, and the FBI Laboratory in Quantico, Virginia.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Chris Myers, Clare Hochhalter, Janice Morley, and Scott Schneider prosecuted the case.