Officers investigating man’s ‘suspicious’ death

Officers investigating man's 'suspicious' death A forensic lab van from the Department of Criminal Investigation in Pierre is parked beside the trailer home of Mark Paulson Wednesday as DCI personnel comb the residence for evidence. Acting Vermillion Police Chief Kim Callahan said Paulson's death is "suspicious." by David Lias Law enforcement officials from Vermillion and Pierre won't say for sure how a Vermillion man died in his home this week until an autopsy is completed in Thursday.

Wednesday afternoon, however, acting Vermillion Police Chief Kim Callahan said the death of Mark Paulson is suspicious in nature.

Vermillion police responded to a 911 call to Paulson's home at approximately 9:20 p.m. Aug. 13 at the Lamplighter Trailer Court, located at 108 E. Cherry Street.

"After arriving at this location, officers discovered a deceased 49 year old male," Callahan said. "The death is suspicious, and as a result, the Vermillion Police Department, Clay County Sheriff's office and the South Dakota Department of Criminal Investigation are conducting an investigation."

Callahan said Paulson has lived in Vermillion approximately 15 to 20 years. He wouldn't say who made the 911 call Tuesday.

"We are currently following up leads and interviewing various people," he said.

A blue van from the Department of Criminal Investigation, Pierre, was parked outside Paulson's residence Wednesday. The crime scene was sealed from the public with a long strand of yellow tape warning people not to cross, and a Vermillion police officer was posted by the van.

"The van is a forensic lab van from Pierre," Callahan said. "It is a DCI vehicle, and that whole trailer (belonging to Paulson) is being processed for evidence today."

Forensic specialists from Pierre, he said, were painstakingly collecting samples of DNA, hair, fibers and other pieces of evidence from the trailer.

"Our detectives are also involved, not so much in the forensic investigation, but in any follow-up at the scene," Callahan said.

Once the DCI officials complete their sweep of the Paulson residence, he said, local law enforcement will collect evidence they need for their investigation.

"We're looking at other things besides forensic types of things," Callahan said, "and then we'll go from there. And we'll wait for the results from the autopsy. It is very suspicious, obviously."

Callahan said he may receive preliminary information about the results of the autopsy as early as Thursday afternoon.

"We may revise our statement tomorrow (Thursday)," he said.

Callahan said it's reasonable to expect Vermillion citizens to be concerned about this incident.

"I'm not going to downplay it. I do not see at this time, however, a reason for people to panic or to take any unnecessary precautions," he said.

He urges people to just use common sense to be secure, such as locking their doors at night.

"If you think you've got a prowler or something, call the police. It's pretty simple to do," Callahan said.

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