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Published September 26, 2013, 10:09 AM

Man convicted in 1977 Bismarck murder dies in custody

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A man convicted of murdering a Bismarck woman in 1977 has died while serving his sentence.

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A man convicted of murdering a Bismarck woman in 1977 has died while serving his sentence.

State Corrections officials say 58-year-old Mark Wells died of natural causes at a Bismarck hospital on Sept. 18.

Wells was originally from South Dakota. The Bismarck Tribune reports he pleaded guilty in the Jan. 23, 1977, slaying of 24-year-old Deborah Gustin. Wells was sentenced to life, had it reduced to 97 years, and served more than 36 years before his death.

Wells told authorities Gustin came upon him as he attempted to break into her apartment, and that he raped her before killing her. Her body was found in an abandoned mine in the Terry Peak area of South Dakota's Black Hills on Jan. 30, 1977. A medical examiner concluded she was strangled.

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