Man convicted of chilling crime in Moose Lake dies in prison
January 13, 2023
The man responsible for one of Carlton County’s most heinous crimes died in prison this week.
Donald Blom, 73, passed away on Tuesday at a state correctional facility in Oak Park Heights, where he was serving a life sentence for the 1999 kidnapping and murder of Katie Poirier, 19, of Barnum.
“It was one of those cases that will be with me forever,” Carlton County Sheriff Kelly Lake said Wednesday. “What that family has gone through is just unimaginable.”
Poirier had been working alone when she encountered Blom, a serial offender, who forced Poirier out of a Moose Lake convenience store along Interstate 35 late at night on May 26, 1999.
Lake was a deputy at the time and on patrol when the kidnapping was reported. She helped process the scene, and spent time on the monthlong search for Poirier, working alongside law enforcement crews and volunteers, until Poirier’s remains were found on Blom’s property.
“It really rocked to the core the safety of our communities,” Lake said. “Up until that point, by and large nobody thought something of that magnitude would or could happen here. But when it did, it hit home. It happened to someone people knew, a young person people knew from church, school, and playing sports.”
“It was an expected, natural-causes death due to illness,” corrections spokesman Aaron Swanum said.
Lake recalled how the crime informally changed the way the authorities patrolled, becoming more keen to late-night establishments where people might be working alone.
“That was in the back of your mind,” Lake said. “As a patrol deputy you were more cognizant.”
The area where Poirier was abducted is more robustly developed now, with numerous stations and establishments. At the time, the convenience store where she worked was a lone haven off an exit to the interstate.
The Pine Knot wondered about justice, and asked Lake if she felt Blom’s conviction for first-degree murder and kidnapping of Poirier, and his death in prison custody, meant justice had been served to completion.
“Certainly, he was never able to do it again,” Lake said. “But is it true justice? Because it will never bring Katie back.”