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Details emerge in Donald Blom prison death

He was serving life in prison without the possibility of parole for the murder of Katie Poirier in 1999.

donald blom.png
Donald Blom
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MOOSE LAKE — The man convicted of the 1999 kidnapping and murder of Katie Poirier, 19, of Barnum, has died while serving life in prison, according to Aaron Swanum, a spokesperson for the Minnesota Department of Corrections.

Katie Poirier
Katie Poirier

Donald Albin Blom, 73, died Tuesday, Jan. 10, at the Minnesota Correctional Facility-Oak Park Heights near Stillwater, Minnesota. He served 23 years of a life sentence for the first-degree murder and kidnapping of Poirier. Swanum said Blom was ill and the death was expected, due to natural causes.

Poirier was working an overnight shift at the Moose Lake DJ's Expressway on May 26, 1999. Grainy footage from a surveillance camera captured a man forcing Poirier out of the gas station. Poirier's body was never discovered, but some of Poirier's remains, including a recently filled tooth, were found on Blom's property nearly a month later.

Blom initially confessed to the murder, then later recanted the confession, claiming that solitary confinement and medications caused him to confess. Blom was a registered sex offender involved in five known cases of kidnapping or sexual assault prior to Poirier's murder.

Blom's trial took five weeks and included testimony from over 50 witnesses, including two women Blom kidnapped in 1983. The jury took 10 hours to convict Blom.

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"It's another step to closure. It'll probably never be closed, but it's a giant step," said the victim's father, Steve Poirier.

Blom was convicted under the Paul Antonich Law, named for the Two Harbors teenager kidnapped and murdered in 1996. The law made it a mandatory life sentence for murder in the process of a kidnapping.

Poirier's murder led to the passage of “Katie's Law,” which included the development of a statewide crime computer network, tightening tracking requirements for predatory sex offenders, such as Blom. The law made it more difficult for felons to change their names, which Blom did, and it lengthened prison sentences for first-degree criminal sexual conduct. It also provided money for more probation officers and technology and staffing at the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.

"Out of that tragedy a lot of advancements have come, and we'll continue to seek more."

This story was updated at 1:55 p.m. Jan. 11 to add information about Blom's time, place and cause of death, and background details. It was originally published at 11:22 a.m. the same day.

The story originally misstated how long Blom's trial lasted. It was corrected at 5:02 p.m Jan. 11. The News Tribune regrets the error.

Related Topics: CRIME AND COURTSMOOSE LAKEBARNUMHOMICIDE
Teri Cadeau is a general assignment and neighborhood reporter for the Duluth News Tribune. Originally from the Iron Range, Cadeau has worked for several community newspapers in the Duluth area for eight years including: The Duluth Budgeteer News, Western Weekly, Weekly Observer, Lake County News-Chronicle and occasionally, the Cloquet Pine Journal. When not working, she's an avid reader and crafter.
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