Friday, November 11, 2022

"I was in a lineup with Donald Blom" -- A True Crime Anecdote

On May 26, 1999, 19-year-old Katie Elizabeth Poirier went missing from D. J.'s Expressway Conoco convenience store in Moose Lake, Minnesota, where she worked nights as a clerk. Donald Albin Blom is now serving life in prison without the possibility of parole for her murder in 1999. A registered sex offender involved in five cases of kidnapping and sexual assault prior to Poirier's murder, he was suspected of being a serial killer by case investigators. 

* * * 

I was making music with a group of musicians this summer when one of the guitar players, John Hyde, told us about how he ended up in a police lineup with Donald Blom, the convicted murderer of Katie Poirier. The story intrigued me because I can't recall ever meeting someone who was in a police lineup. 

John Hyde, far right. Donald Blom, second from left.
"It was late in the day when I got a call about the lineup from Sgt. Dannon Bauer," Hyde said. "He is the guy next to me in the lineup. He said he was looking for someone blonde with a mustache."

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In 1978, John Hyde worked with the Duluth Police Department for a year, not as an officer but as a tech guy. This became a career stepping stone. Hyde had an opportunity to work in this field in exchange for an FCC license and he took it. He returned to the DPD in 1992 and worked there till 2020.  

One day, Dannon Bauer, a department seargent, said, "Report to Moose Lake." When he arrived Hyde was told to dress in prison garb so that he could be placed in a police lineup with four other officers and Donald Blom at the Carlton County jail. Blom had been accused and later convicted of the abduction and murder of Katie Poirier, a high profile case in our region.

When Hyde reported to jail he was escorted to a break room where he and the others would wait for Blom to be delivered to the station for the lineup. "I picked up a magazine to read," Hyde said.

The video surveillance footage showed that the man who abducted Poirier was wearing a baseball jersey, so each of the men would take turns being dressed in a #23 New York Yankees jersey, then ushered into the small room with a two-way mirror. Each was then instructed to read a statement.

Because Blom was late in arriving, it became a late night for all involved. 

"I wasn't intimidated by him (Blom)," Hyde said. "I didn't talk to him. He did talk to one person in the room."

There were three FBI guys involved in this case, Hyde believed. Hyde had interactions with two of them, but not the supervisor they reported to. One of the FBI guys was a jokester, ribbing Hyde by saying, "They picked you out of the lineup." 

Hyde later had to go to court to have his identity verified. Afterwards he went to lunch with the FBI guys.

In an interesting twist, John's 15-year-old son Andrew Hyde also got involved in the case. There was a call for volunteers to go out and search the woods to find evidence regarding where the body might have been buried or disposed of. More than 100 National Guardsmen and an equal number of volunteers participated in the evidence quest. Sadly, the search yielded results. Dental remains were found in a fire pit on Blom's 20-acre property. 

Photo courtesy John Hyde

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