Jan Pigman-Kruse's 2015 Murder Remains Unsolved — What Happened?

Shannon Raphael - Author

Dec. 4 2020, Published 3:33 p.m. ET

jan pigman-kruse
Source: NBC

For more than 28 years, the correspondents on Dateline have been sharing human interest stories, and the NBC series shifted to exclusively detail true crime cases in the early aughts.

Though the harrowing murders covered on the show are tragic, many episodes conclude with some kind of resolution about a convicted killer.

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On the Dec. 4 episode, "Far from Spider Lake," Keith Morrison covers the 2015 murder of Jan Pigman-Kruse. While asleep in her Minnesota home, Jan Kruse was shot to death. Though someone did go on trial for the killing, the case remains unsolved. 

What happened to Jan Kruse? Continue reading for the key details in the investigation. 

Source: NBC
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What happened to Jan Kruse?

On Aug. 19, 2015, Jan Kruse was fatally shot in the chest in her Brewster, Minn. home. 

The 40-year-old mother was in bed with her husband, Chris Kruse, when she was shot twice with a shotgun, leading the police to initially suspect that he was involved. He was not injured during the incident. 

Their teenage daughter, Bailey Kruse, was also home when the tragedy took place, and though she heard the shot, she was unharmed as well. 

While calling the police, Jan Kruse's husband indicated that the back door of the home was open. He also stated that someone had come into the bedroom to shoot Jan Kruse, but that he didn't see who that person was.

When the authorities arrived, they noted that there were broken windows at the home. This would support the theory that someone could have broken in. 

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Nothing was taken, however, leading investigators to believe that Jan Kruse was targeted, and that the killing wasn't likely a robbery-gone-wrong. 

Prior to the murder, the Kruse family's garage had mysteriously burned down too.

Eventually, the focus shifted to Chris Kruse, as no other seemingly viable suspects emerged. Some of his interview material at the police station was inconsistent, and there was focus placed on the nature of the 911 call.

Source: NBC
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Plus, they found a shotgun (the type of weapon used in the crime) at Chris Kruse's carpentry shop, and the K-9 unit could not trace a smell of an intruder.

As for a motive, the investigators had a theory. 

They learned that Chris Kruse and Jan Kruse had a desire to buy the Spider Lake Resort, a place where they had vacationed before. But they could not afford it, even with the loan that the bank was willing to give them.

Investigators determined that Chris Kruse's motive was his wife's life insurance policy which, when cashed, would cover the amount needed to purchase the resort. 

In 2019, Chris Kruse was arrested on charges of first- and second-degree murder. But the case was far from over. 

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Where is Chris Kruse now?

After his initial arrest in March of 2019, Chris Kruse went on trial in early 2020. He was represented by Steven Groschen and Thomas Hagen from the Kohlmeyer Hagen Law Office in Mankato, Minn. 

Following a two-week trial, the jurors deliberated for approximately 12 hours before acquitting Chris Kruse of the charges.

The defense argued that Chris Kruse was in shock while making the 911 call, which explained his demeanor and his inability to perform potentially life-saving procedures like CPR.

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They also stated that it could not be confirmed that the shots came from Chris Kruse's gun, or that he had enough time to stash it in his carpentry office before calling the police. 

During the trial, Chris Kruse's legal team also offered up another suspect: Bailey Kruse's boyfriend. They argued that he owned the same type of shotgun as the one used in the killing.

There have been no other arrests made in the murder of Jan Kruse. 

Chris Kruse is now 46 years old, and he contributed to the Dateline episode about his late wife. 

The Dateline episode featuring the murder of Jan Kruse airs on Dec. 4 at 9 p.m. ET on NBC. 

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