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Focus elusive in Fargo murder case

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Police are investigating a multitude of potential leads in the Philip Gattuso murder case, but haven't zeroed in on an explanation yet.

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"There's nothing apparent, that's for sure," said Capt. Tod Dahle.

The case has no "definite focus point," Dahle said, because it doesn't appear to be drug-related or a crime of passion, two of the most typical murder motives.

"Here, it's different. Is it strictly to steal this car? Is there more to it?" Dahle said. "It just seems surprising if that's what it ends up being. That seems like a small price for a person's life."

He added: "I've got a feeling it will be an interesting story when it's all said and done."

Gattuso, a 49-year-old periodontist, was found dead by his next-door neighbor on Monday. The neighbor discovered the bloody body in Gattuso's condominium at 2536 S. University Drive after he didn't pick up his daughter from day care.

The condo was ransacked and missing was Gattuso's 1999 silver Porsche Boxster convertible, which has plates that read 2KRYSIS.

At least two witnesses saw the car on a flatbed trailer being hauled away by a pickup truck near Gattuso's home at about 11:30 a.m. on Monday.

Because of those reports, Dahle said police are assuming Gattuso was killed Monday morning. Preliminary reports from an autopsy showed the cause of death to be a head injury, but officials won't say if they suspect what caused the injury or if a weapon has been identified.

The pickup seen hauling the car was a dark-colored or black GMC or Chevrolet, a mid- or late-1990s model with a vinyl box cover. New details were released Thursday after further interviews: The truck was a two-door extended cab with tinted back windows. Also, the trailer had straps securing the car.

Police are still examining security tapes to see if any caught the truck on camera and are urging anyone who saw it, or who has other tips, to call (701) 241-1405.

Dahle said investigators are confident that whoever took the car has keys to it. Though the witnesses did not see the 2KRYSIS plates on the car, it would be "an amazing coincidence" if the Porsche on the trailer wasn't Gattuso's, he said.

The mysterious manner of the crime naturally leads to a suspicion that Gattuso had a secret "dark side," Dahle said, but so far there is nothing suggesting that.

"Frankly, I haven't heard anybody say anything negative about him," he said.

Without any firm theory, detectives have been forced to chase down each tip and take extra care to ensure all potential evidence has been sifted through and collected from the condo.

"It's required a lot of manpower," Dahle said.

The home is still considered a crime scene and is under 24-hour watch until police release it, allowing family to enter. That could happen today, Dahle said.

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