Parents of North Dakota woman gone missing in 1994 vow to never give up

Wes and Linda Julson haven't yet given up on the hope of finding their daughter, Michele "Shelly" Julson, who went missing from Bismarck on Aug. 2, 1994, they tell the Dakota Spotlight podcast, which is reinvestigating the cold case aided by the police file on Shelly's disappearance.

Wes and Linda Julson stand on the lawn in front of their house in Center, North Dakota, and hold a framed photo of their missing daughter, Michele (Shelly) Julson
Wes and Linda Julson hold a photo of their missing daughter, Michele (Shelly) Julson, at their home in Center, North Dakota, June 21, 2022. The Julsons question how law enforcement handled the disappearance of Shelly, who vanished on Aug. 2, 1994, while running errands in Bismarck. James Wolner / Forum News Service

CENTER, North Dakota — Wes and Linda Julson have advice for others whose family members have gone missing: Don't give up.

In the latest episode of the Dakota Spotlight podcast, the Julsons describe how they still hope to find their daughter, Michele "Shelly" Julson, who went missing in Bismarck in 1994. Their quest, now in its third decade, has meant they've gone through things no parent would hope to ever experience.

Listen to Episode Number 5 — Don't Give Up

Get Dakota Spotlight on your favorite podcast app Apple | Spotify | Google

They've seen some questionable decisions by police investigators, have fought to post missing posters both in their hometown of Center and at WE Fest music festival in Minnesota, where someone said they had seen their daughter, and have been dismissed — mocked even — for chasing lost hopes.

Also on this latest episode of Forum Communication's most popular podcast, Bismarck Police Officer Rob Carvell recalls responding to the call that Julson was missing, from Richard and Kevin Woodworth (Kevin was Julson's former boyfriend and father to her son, Jayden), in 1994.


Carvell later re-opened the case 22 years later, in 2016. And he noted the number of things that weren't done in the original investigation, and questions why there are pages missing in the official police file on Julson's disappearance.

About Dakota Spotlight, Season Seven: 'Call Me Shelly — The Mysterious Disappearance of Michele Julson'

In this season of Dakota Spotlight, creator, host and Regional Emmy Award-winner James Wolner looks into the cold case of 26-year-old Michele "Shelly" Julson, who vanished from Bismarck, North Dakota on Aug. 2, 1994. Granted exclusive, unprecedented access by police to the cold-case file, Wolner presents a play-by-play review of the initial investigation and further examines the strange events surrounding Shelly's life and her disappearance.

With the aid of new interviews with Shelly’s friends, family and retired police investigators, Wolner dives into the shadows of Shelly’s world at the time — Bismarck’s bar and gambling scene — and tracks the movements of several persons of interest. All in an attempt to answer the biggest questions of the case: What happened to Shelly? Where is she now?

Gallery - Browse with arrow on right

People in this episode

In alphabetical order)

  • Kim Borner: Shelly's friend
  • Officer Rob Carvell: Bismarck Police Department officer and patrolman, who responded to the Julson missing person report 
  • Bill Connor: Bismarck Police Department investigator
  • John Drath: Wes Julson’s co-worker and acquaintance of Shelly
  • Sheila Heil: Shelly’s boss and co-worker at Fort Abraham Lincoln Foundation
  • Tony Hulm: Shelly's latest on-again/off-again boyfriend, and a bartender at Burnt Creek Club
  • Wes Julson: Shelly's father
  • Linda Julson: Shelly’s mother
  • Michele "Shelly" Julson: a 26-year-old blackjack dealer and mother of 3-year-old Jaden, who went missing on Aug. 2, 1994
  • Holly Ness: Shelly’s friend
  • Don Schaffer: Bismarck police officer and patron at Burnt Creek Club. Shelly told friends Schaffer had been harassing her at work.

  • Rick Snell: Did not return to work at Great Lines after Aug. 2, 1994 
  • Julie Thompson: investigator with the Bismarck Police Department
  • Dennis Walls: Bismarck Police Department sergeant who was the initial and main investigator on the Julson case
  • Jaden Woodworth: Shelly's son, 3 years old when she went missing
  • Kevin Woodworth: Shelly's former boyfriend and Jaden's father
  • Richard Woodworth: Jaden's paternal grandfather and the last person to acknowledge having seen her when she dropped Jaden at 104 American Ave.
  • Jenny Yantzer: Barmaid at Burnt Creek Club. Shelly speculated that Jenny was responsible for hangup phone calls and damage to her car.  Jenny has denied any involvement. 

People in previous episodes

  • Chris Aziz: Bartender at the Elbow Room. Witnessed Shelly with two men Sunday night.
  • James Becker: Shelly's friend
  • Russ Bryant: Investigator for Burlington Northern Railroad
  • Walter Czerwinski: Retired Burlington Northern employee
  • Clifford Emmert: Bismarck Police Department investigator
  • Jack Erhardt: Kevin Woodworth's foreman at Miller Insulation
  • Larry Helfenstein: Shelly's friend
  • Robin Mostad: Shelly’s co-worker at The Elbow Room
  • Bonnie Munsch: Shelly's friend and coworker, worked with Shelly at the Burnt Creek Club the night before Shelly vanished. Bonnie felt Shelly did not seem her usual self that night.
  • Tarileen Olson: Blackjack dealer at Fort Abraham Lincoln Foundation
  • Mike Quinn: Agent at North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation
  • Amy Sansburn: Claimed she partied with Shelly at WE Fest.
  • Tammy Sumner: Shelly’s babysitter
  • Troy Schaner: Bismarck police officer who helped North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation's aerial search for Shelly's car
  • Nick Sevart: Bismarck Police officer
  • Carol Thomas: Assistant manager at The Fleck House hotel near The Elbow Room bar

Jeremy Fugleberg is editor of The Vault, Forum Communications Co.'s home for Midwest history, mysteries, crime and culture. He is also a member of the company's Editorial Advisory Board.
What To Read Next
Get Local


Must Reads