Family of man found murdered near Red River shares their story

Victim Phillip Bergquist was a son, a brother and a father to a 10-year-old boy.
Published: Nov. 4, 2022 at 7:45 PM CDT|Updated: Nov. 4, 2022 at 9:15 PM CDT
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FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) - The family of the man found stabbed to death near the Red River earlier this week is sharing their story, as a reminder as to why it’s so important to never give up on loved ones.

Phillip Bergquist’s father, Paul, and brother, John, are from Detroit Lakes, but were in Fargo Friday to receive Bergquist’s ashes.

“I would tell him that I love him,” Paul said. “That’s the last words he had to me.”

Paul never imagined his son’s story would end quite like this, just one week away from his 33rd birthday. Life for Phillip Dewey Bergquist was fairly normal. He spent the majority of it in Wisconsin with his family. Shortly after high school, all of that changed.

“He had experimented with drugs,” he said. “He did like his beer.”

Phillip started running with the wrong crowd and distancing himself from his family. Paul says about five years ago, the rest of the family moved to the Detroit Lakes area, leaving Phillip behind.

“He’s always been family, but he wasn’t a member of our household anymore, because of the strife that he caused earlier in his life,” Paul said.

But last spring, Phillip landed in Fargo, with hopes of turning his life around.

“He thought it was greener pastures for him,” he said. “He was trying to make his way.”

And it seemed to be. Phillip was calling his dad more often than ever. It’s why Paul says he could feel something wasn’t right, leading up to his death.

“It makes you feel cold,” Paul said. “For some reason, that’s how I feel when I hear about this and think about it.”

On Sunday, police found Phillip’s body near the Red River in Fargo. They knew right away, he was a victim of homicide.

“It’s just devastating of course. The healing process is going to take some time. I may never heal.”

Bergquist was a son, a brother and a father to a 10-year-old boy. His loved ones say while he had his demons, he certainly didn’t deserve what happened to him. His dad is left with one message.

“Don’t give up on your family.”

His family plans to plant a tree and spread his ashes at the Bergquist Cabin in Moorhead, so he can be with his grandpa. His funeral is next Saturday in Wisconsin.

The three men police say are responsible for the murder were formally charged Friday. George Ortiz has been charged with murder, Joseph Poitra is charged with accomplice to murder and David Reyneros is charged with tampering with evidence.

Court documents filed Friday say Ortiz repeatedly stabbed Bergquist, while Poitra held him down.