Witness still grappling with grief, guilt of teen’s murder

Published: Sep. 28, 2022 at 6:35 PM CDT
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FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) - Patrick Peterson is still taking it day by day.

“There’s no getting over it,” he said. Peterson is a garbage truck driver with the City of Fargo.

The scene of the crime is no longer on Peterson’s route, but he still goes every Friday morning as he plays a guilt-filled, torturous game with himself.

“I time myself if I can get there earlier or not, and I typically do. Which makes me wonder, would it have made a difference? Would it not?” Peterson said.

It was Friday, June 4, 2021, and minutes before 7 a.m. when Peterson rolled up to Party City off of 13th Ave. S. in Fargo. It was what he did every Friday. However, that day Peterson saw something out-of-place as he drove closer to the store. Peterson says that’s when he saw 23-year-old Arthur Kollie kneeling over 14-year-old Jupiter Paulsen with one hand on her throat and the other pinching her nose.

“I still see the blood on the pavement,” Peterson said.

Peterson says a bin at a nearby hotel was giving him trouble and took up about 15 extra minutes of his time on the morning of June 4. He says those 15 minutes could have been life-saving for Jupiter had he been able to get there, but also says he knows he shouldn’t dwell.

Kollie awaits sentencing after a jury found him guilty earlier this month of the brutal beating which officials say lasted more than 30 minutes. He faces the rest of his life in prison without parole. A sentencing date has not yet been set.

Despite his best efforts, Peterson couldn’t save the teen. It’s a loss he says he’s taken personally as his daughter, Cali would have been the same age as Jupiter. Peterson says his daughter died of SIDS, sudden infant death syndrome, 15 years ago.

“Everything resurfaced. That’s the second kid I couldn’t help. That rips you apart. It just destroys you,” he said.

Peterson says it also haunts him that he wasn’t the first person to drive up on the attack of Paulsen. At Kollie’s trial, video evidence showed another private garbage truck driving by the scene, as well as an employee of Party City pulling into the parking lot several minutes before Peterson arrived. Police say Peterson was the only one who called 911 about the attack that morning.

“What is so hard with society nowadays to stop and say, ‘Hey are you alright?’ Or everyone’s got a cell phone now. Make a quick phone call!” Peterson said.

Peterson says his job will never be the same. He says he’s always looking for the next person he may need to help or try to save.

“It’s gonna eat at me for awhile,” Peterson said.

Peterson says he’s not sure when he’ll ever find closure, but says he knows he has two angels who will be with him through it all until he does.