The "Dakota Spotlight" true-crime podcast brings light to stories from the Upper Midwest, with powerful storytelling, compassion for the victims, and a search for understanding. The podcast was created by host James Wolner in 2019. Find documents, photos, and other content right here. Listen to all "Dakota Spotlight" episodes here or on Apple,Spotify, Stitcher or Google.And Find content related for each season below.

Season 8 - Unresolved: The Murder of Joel Lovelien
Joel 3 pounder June 26 2004.JPG
Joel Lovelien

Joel Lovelien was beaten to death outside the Broken Drum bar in Grand Forks in the early morning hours of Oct. 28, 2007, amid a night of Halloween revelry. Nobody has ever been found guilty for his murder.

Suspicion immediately fell on a variety of costumed partiers that night, including some dressed as a lion, the joker and a hunter. Local police and prosecutors thought they had their man, the one dressed as a lion that night: Travis Stay. But Stay was found not guilty in December 2008 in a high-profile trial -- a sensational result that has made the case a staple of true crime shows, including the Dateline TV program.

Welcome to Dakota Spotlight's eighth season: "Unresolved: The Murder of Joel Lovelien." With unprecedented access to case files and evidence, prosecutors, police, witnesses and family members, Dakota Spotlight creator and host James Wolner will use his unique investigation and reporting style to pursue the case's central questions: Who killed Joel Lovelien? Why was Travis Stay found not guilty? And why does so much suspicion linger around others in this case?

Listen on the audio page >>

In 'Unresolved: the Murder of Joel Lovelien,' Dakota Spotlight investigates the beating death of a man outside a bar amid Halloween festivities. Nobody has ever been found guilty of killing him.

Keep an eye on this page to get the latest episodes or subscribe on Apple, Spotify, Stiticher or Google Podcasts.

Season 7: Call Me Shelly — The Mysterious Disappearance of Michele Julson

School portrait of a smiling Shelly Julson 18 years of age wearing blue button-down shirt under a purple knitted vest. Shelly has feathered, shoulder-length red-brown hair and dark eyes and eyebrows.
School portrait of a smiling Shelly Julson 18 years of age wearing blue button-down shirt under a purple knitted vest. Shelly has feathered, shoulder-length red-brown hair and dark eyes and eyebrows.

Michele "Shelly" Julson's disappearance has been a mystery from the start. She dropped off her young son at his grandparents' home on an August day in 1994. She was expected back in just hours. She never returned.

Granted exclusive, unprecedented access by police to the cold-case file, Dakota Spotlight host James Wolner presents a play-by-play review of the initial investigation and further examines the strange events surrounding Shelly's life and her disappearance. All in an attempt to answer the biggest questions of the case: What happened to Shelly? Where is she now?

Season 6 - Vanishing Act: The Untold Story of Kristin Joy Diede and Bob Anderson
Kristin Diede and Bob Anderson, May 1, 1993
Chase Anderson, son of Bob Anderson
Contributed / Anderson Family

In season 6 of Dakota Spotlight, James is joined by FCC journalist Jeremy Fugleberg as the two look for answers in the mysterious disappearance of Kristin Diede and Bob Anderson. James and Jeremy work with family members and friends to untangle what happened, in a case that stretches from Minnesota to the Dakotas and remains unsolved after nearly three decades.

Listen on the audio page >>

As for who is responsible for the disappearances of Diede and Anderson, a listener would have to tune in and, ultimately, decide for themselves. With all 11 episodes now out, this season of the true-crime investigative podcast Dakota Spotlight is fully available to binge-listen.
James Wolner and Jeremy Fugleberg look into the mysterious disappearance of Joy Diede and Bob Anderson in this season of "Dakota Spotlight."


Season 5 - A Better Search for Barbara
barbara-louise-cotton-williston-nd-cold-case-investigation-dakota-spotlight.png Photo courtesy of the Cotton family
Barbara Louise Cotton

Barbara Cotton was reportedly last seen walking toward her Williston, N.D., home on 1981. The 15-year-old never arrived at her destination and was never heard from again. The clues have been few, and her case was never solved. "Dakota Spotlight" host James Wolner investigates this cryptic cold case and talks to the people left to grieve Barbara's disappearance.

Listen to Season 5 on the audio page >>


Season 4 - "Chasing Billy: A Pursuit for Justice"
Billy Wolf photos.jpg
Photos of Billy wolf from 1977 and 1975. From "Dakota Spotlight Season 4 - "Chasing Billy: A Pursuit for Justice."

In August of 1978, outside of the city of Fargo, North Dakota, a man canoeing in the Red River came across two plastic garbage bags. Police discovered the severed body of William Wolf Jr, otherwise known as Billy. To this day, the reason for Billy's murder remains a mystery to the community.

Listen to Season 4 on the audio page >>

Season 3 - "The House on Sweet and Seventh"
Brian Erickstad

In Season 3, "Dakota Spotlight" looks into the gruesome, baffling, and heart-wrenching murder of Barbara and Gordon Erickstad. The two were killed in their Bismarck home by their son, 18-year-old Brian Erickstad, and his friend, 27-year-old Robert Lawrence in 1998. What emerged was a story of profoundly misguided loyalties among a circle of young friends.

Season three features both audio and video storytelling, taking advantage of news footage and images available.

Listen and watch >>

Dakota Spotlight is a true crime podcast and video series by James Wolner, Click Content Studios and Forum Communications. This season's story is about the sad and tragic events that happened 22 years ago in Bismarck, N.D. Barbara and Gordon Erickstad were brutally murdered in their home by their son, 18-year-old Brian Erickstad, and his friend, 27-year-old Robert Lawrence in September of 1998. Note: This podcast contains graphic content. Viewer/listener discretion is advised.

Season 2 - Zeeland: The Untold Story of Wade and Ellen Zick
This gripping podcast looks back at the 1976 bank robbery and heartbreaking murder in the tiny town of Zeeland N.D., remembering the victims, visiting the family and community that loved them, and searching for answers.

Season 1 - Dakota Spotlight: Who Killed Victor Mayberry
Newberry's body was found along a gravel road less than a mile from his Glen Ullin, N.D., home in December 2014. Law enforcement said there was no foul play, but locals speculated there was more to the story.