New details have emerged in connection to the death of a 19-year-old Estherville college student who was found shot to death in June of 2015.
According to a court documents, the state of Iowa plans to submit evidence that shows that 19-year-old Lee Christensen’s father Dean Christensen led police to Thomas Bortvit’s body. Authorities say that Lee Christensen called his father around 4:30 P.M. on June 7th as a search was underway for Bortvit. While on the phone with Lee, his father flagged down two Estherville police officers and sat in the back seat of their patrol car as he led them to the location of Bortvit’s body at a rural location outside Estherville. Authorities say that Dean Christensen made incriminating statements to police while he was on the phone with Lee as he led them to Bortvit’s body, and the State is seeking to have those statements admitted into evidence.
The State is also seeking to admit text messages sent to an Estherville girl from Bortvit’s phone that occurred after his death. They’re also seeking to disallow any evidence that Christensen suffers from the condition tuberous sclerosis. The condition is a rare genetic disorder in which small benign tumors grow in the brain and other vital organs. Symptoms of the condition include seizures, developmental delay, and behavioral problems.
Christensen is accused of shooting 19-year-old Thomas Bortivit on June 6th of 2015 around 6:00 P.M.. According to the criminal complaint, the murder took place at a farm at 3976 14th Ave. North, just Northwest of Estherville. Online records show the property is owned by a Donald W. Christensen from Estherville. Bortvit was reported missing later that night and volunteers searched for his body until it was found the following day.
An arrest warrant was issued for Christensen shortly after Bortvit’s body was located and he was taken into custody at the Minneapolis airport after getting off a plane from Phoenix, Arizona. According to the arrest report, when Christensen’s plane landed he was found to be traveling with his mother. Authorities at the Minneapolis airport were told by agents from the Iowa DCI that Christensen’s phone had evidence on it in relation to the murder. When Airport Police asked Christensen for his phone, he told them he didn’t have one. Authorities then questioned Christensen’s mother who told them that Christensen’s phone was in her bag and turned it over to authorities. The airport police then escorted Christensen’s mother outside the airport, where she was picked up by her husband.
Christensen has pleaded not guilty to one count of First Degree Murder in connection to Bortvit’s death. He’s currently being held in the Emmet County Jail on a $2,000,000 bond. His trial is scheduled to begin on June 21st.