Magnetic fishing can pull up a lot of different things. Sometimes, it can even pull up key evidence from a crime scene. It’s a common theme in crime novels and TV shows for the killer to toss a murder weapon into a body of water. Often, in both fiction and reality, the murder weapon is a gun. When a gun tumbles deep to the bottom of a lake, a river, or an ocean, it is usually assumed to be lost. Now, magnetic fishing is being used as a way to search bodies of water for valuable forensic evidence.
In North Dakota, brothers Austin and Brandon Kinzler found that their enthusiasm for magnetic fishing had the potential to help grieving families. In 2014, Andrew Sadek was found dead in the Red River near the North Dakota State College of Science with a gunshot wound—but no weapon to be found. In May 2021, Andrew’s mother, Tammy, asked the Kinzler brothers to use their powerful magnets to try and search the Red River for the weapon involved in her son’s death.
Unfortunately, in this incident, the Kinzler brothers were not able to find a gun. However, during past searches, the Kinzler brothers have recovered six firearms from bodies of water using magnetic fishing. The Kinzler brothers aren’t the only ones, either—finding guns on magnet fishing expeditions is extremely common. On Reddit, a popular social media website where users gather in “subreddits” to discuss common interests, the magnetic fishing subreddit frequently sees users talking about finding firearms, munitions, and explosives. This type of find is so common that the magnetic fishing subreddit even has an entire section of its “frequently asked questions” page devoted to the topic!
If you find a firearm or any other type of weapon on a magnetic fishing trip, it is highly important that you contact your local law enforcement agency while being sure to exercise proper gun handling safety techniques. While it may be tempting to keep it as part of your treasure collection, it can be illegal to possess a firearm (even a non-functioning one) without proper paperwork. Additionally, the gun you unearthed may be connected to a cold case. While discovering a gun on a magnet fishing trip is thrilling, being the person who helps crack an unsolved murder case is an even more exciting story. Plus, there is no better reward than being able to provide peace and closure to a family that has lost a loved one as a result of a crime.
For information about what to do if you discover a firearm while magnetic fishing, we encourage you to reach out to your local law enforcement agency.