Man charged with murdering missing rancher

Capt. Verlan Kvande of the Williston County Sheriff’s Office has released information on the body discovered Tuesday morning, identifed as missing area rancher Jack Sjol, 58.

Sjol had been missing since April 24, and investigators had reported finding evidence of foul play at his home. Now they have found Sjol’s body and perhaps his killer.

An extensive search went on for a week, with a reward of $30,000 offered by Sjol’s family for the man’s discovery.

Officers of the sheriff’s office and the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation executed a search warrant Tuesday morning, at a property seven miles east of Williston. They found Sjol’s body on the property and sent it to the North Dakota Medical Examiner for identification, where an autopsy was performed Wednesday morning. The body was positively identified Thursday, with some difficulty reported due to its degree of decomposition. The cause of death was determined to have been homicide, by gunshot wound.

Ryan Lee Stensaker, 33, of Williston, was charged Thursday with Class AA felony murder.

Stensaker had already been arrested on unrelated charges Wednesday with felony and misdemeanor counts of drug paraphernalia possession, along with two felony counts of prohibited possession of a firearm. Before Wednesday’s arrest Stensaker was already a multiple convicted felon, for crimes ranging from drug possession and theft to bail jumping and evading the police.

He is being held at the Williams County Corrections Center, and as of Thursday evening still awaiting a bond hearing for all of his current charges. The latest complaints against him are that he intentially caused the death of another human being, shooting Sjol one or more times, causing death.

In North Dakota a Class AA felony carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment without parole. If a life imprisonment sentence is imposed with the opportunity for parole, the convicted person would not be eligible for parole consideration for 30 years, “less sentence reduction earned for good conduct, after that person’s admission to the penitentiary.”