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Police investigating possible murder of missing man

DULUTH, Posted 10:35 a.m., February 1, 2001 -- Police are searching for a missing Duluth man who they believe was killed in January after a bar fight behind the Hogpen Motorcycle shop in West Duluth.

The search for Erik Shriefer, 26, intensified after police received an eyewitness report of the fight.

Police arrested Joseph Arden Wehmanen, of Hermantown, after the eyewitness reported seeing Wehmanen beat Schriefer just before 1:00 a.m. on January 24.

Police said the beating was so brutal it's unlikely Schriefer could have survived.

"Wehmanen eventually kicked Shriefer to the ground, and kicked repeatedly until he was immobile," said Bob Grytdahl, Deputy Chief Duluth Police. "He then left the scene in his 1991 red S-10 Pickup, and struck Shriefer with the pickup while doing so."

Schriefer has not been seen since. Police called in a State Patrol helicopter Wednesday to search for evidence that is now buried under five inches of new snow.

"The investigation is continuing right now with debriefing, planning second rounds of things, third rounds of things," said Grytdahl.

So far there is no body, and little evidence, and police are asking the public to help solve this crime.

"Let us know if you saw it parked in an alley, or a dirt road," said Grytdahl. "We want a place to go look is what we're looking for."

Wehmanen was arrested for second degree murder, and is expected to be formally charged later this week.

Meanwhile, the truck believed to have been used in the attack has been sent to the Bureau Criminal Apprehension in St. Paul, where investigators will look for traces of blood, hair and other evidence.

Police said witnesses to the beating knew both men, and detectives are so confident in the information, they plan to charge Wehmanen even if they don't find a body.