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tv   Dateline  MSNBC  May 14, 2022 12:00am-2:00am PDT

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really do it. >> and on that note, i wish you a good night. from all of our colleagues across the networks of nbc news, thanks for staying up late with, us i will see you next week. i'm craig melvin, and i'm natalie morales. and this is dateline. >> he was like, i'm going to destroy you. the fear was terrible. i cannot even describe it. it is a surreal thing. people thought i was dead. >> the attack was sudden, and savage. >> i saw a man standing there. >> i heard multiple shots. >> a wife, the only witness. >> the only thing i can see was his eyes. >> her story was concerning about a mask man shooting her husband, and leaving her alive.
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i was worried to kill him herself? >> and then a revelation, the dead man had a dangerous dream. >> we ended up finding a lot of paperwork, relating to the oil business. >> i remember telling, us i'm going to make millions of dollars. >> a big money bencher, oozing with outlaws. >> a violent individual, in prison for robbery. a big man, probably 250 pounds. steroid, rock muscle. significant criminal history. >> greed as would kill my dad. what caused all of. this >> a thirst for oil, it lost for blood. >> i trusted a con artist. i trusted a sociopath. >> what is going to happen to the quiet little prairie town, when oil comes along? >> among the green and pleasant
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landscapes of american privilege, is a fine historic rise of land, called the south hill. here, for 100 years, it is been the home of spokane's washington elites, in their queen and craftsman manage, it's quiet, rectitude, and certainly not the kind of story we are about to tell. the kind of story with ambitious men, dark plots, in dame's. >> i asked him, i said, am i just the dumb blonde to miss this? or did everyone miss? it >> won so many people missed, before that dreadful event here, in the wooded enclave. >> he thought that god was blessing him. >> we thought we were walking on water. >> here they, were empty nesters, all alone with their grand house. convinced that there is successes, there's six grown kids, their good life, were products of an unflinching trust in god.
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>> you know, you finally got out in the desert, and he was going to get into the promised land. >> yes, the promised land. which is beyond imagining. as, the not so dumb blonde do so will. >> it was a madhouse. a wild west. >> so, maybe that is why. the thing on the south hill was not going to stay here. >> my life will never be the same, i am sorry. >> it was wintertime when it happened, christmas season, 15th of december, 2013. a sunday evening, after church. >> 9-1-1, what are you reporting? >> -- a man just came into our house and shot my husband i think. >> this is our story began. in an ugly splash of violence. terror. >> what is your address. >> hurry, south. garfield >> say that slow, or what are the numbers.
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>> if he hears, me he is going to shoot. me >> but was this the beginning of the story? or the end? >> this spokane police detective were pulled into the strangest case of their careers. >> it was the most unique homicide, i had investigated, and i knew that from the first moments of my involvement. >> really? just two knew >> it was cessna coup drove over first to the address on south hill. a place of homicide detective can go a whole career without him a single time. >> the house, it is in a very upper class neighborhood. in south hill, that is like where you want to be. >> right. the street isn't, i had never been to before. >> why would you, as a homicide invective? >> there is just not crime up there in general. >> the home, the detective learned, learn to a businessman named doug carlisle and his wife of many years, elberta.
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first responders had arrived some time earlier, put up their crime scene tape. sesnick walked into the house. >> it was just a weird scene all in all. this was december 15th. there's christmas music playing throughout the house. >> that's bizarre. >> it was very bizarre. they're very religious people, so there's religious scripture written on the walls. then you have this horribly violent and gruesome murder with a body laying on the floor that you're investigating. it was a very, very odd scene. >> 63-year-old doug carlisle was lying on the kitchen floor, clearly the victim of a close-range shooting. >> there was a lot of blood around the body. a lot of shell casings. a lot of bullets laying around. >> how badly was this person damaged? >> he'd been shot seven times. it was obviously a very brutal attack. it wasn't just a one time shot and the person ran out. >> clearly someone was making sure. >> correct. whoever had done this, we knew they wanted to make sure he didn't survive. >> and whatever happened here
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didn't appear to have been motivated by burglary or robbery. the entire house was locked up tight. windows, doors. >> you know, he still had his wallet. he had his cell phone. walking throughout the house, everything was still in place. it hadn't been ransacked. nothing was missing that we could find. >> it was elberta, doug's wife, who'd called 911 in what sounded like a state of abject terror. arriving first responders had found her hiding in an upstairs closet. they took her downtown to talk to burbridge. >> elberta, my name is mark. i'm going to be the detective on the case. >> i wanted to see my husband. they wouldn't let me see him. >> the detective was ready to sympathize, of course, but his training, his instinct, his eye told him not yet, something looked a little off here. >> what did you make of her? >> she's unique in some of her responses, threw up red flags, made me concerned about whether she was involved in this or not. >> what kind of responses?
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>> she didn't care about the police investigation. all she cared about was hugging her husband and praying over him. she was upset that the patrol officers wouldn't let her do that. >> i want my husband! >> there's nothing we can do for your husband right now. >> well, i could have held him. i could have told him i loved him. i could have prayed for him. >> then when the investigator asked what happened elberta told a story, and neither the telling nor the story made any sense at all. coming up -- >> i'm worried whether she had a motive. money, jealousy. a boyfriend, he has a girlfriend she's mad about. >> the wife's tale raises questions and suspicions. >> rehearsed is a good word. >> it sounded that way to you? >> yes, it did. >> when "dateline" continues. when "dateline" continues when "dateline" continues you know, the stevensons told me they saved money bundling their boat insurance with progressive. no one knows who those people are.
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mark burbridge had seen a thing or two during his time on the force, had seen the dodges and floods of phony tears. so he paid careful, experienced attention when elberta carlile told him what happened that sunday evening in the house on south hill. >> what happened tonight? >> we went to church. then we went to a church function. nothing -- i don't know what happened. hell happened. a nightmare happened. that's what happened. >> okay. >> and elberta's story, said detective burbridge, just didn't add up. >> all of a sudden i hear "it's okay, it's okay." then i hear "back off, back off, back off! " and when i heard the back off, i saw, i looked and saw a man standing there in all black.
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>> her story was concerning about a masked man wearing all black, coming into the house and shooting her husband and leaving and leaving her alive. made me worry that maybe she'd hired a hit man or maybe she was making up the story and she was involved in what happened. >> the thing was, the killer saw elberta. she came right out and said so. they stared at each other, soul to soul. so why would a hit man leave an eyewitness alive? unless she was in on it. >> i'm worried whether she had a motive, money, jealousy, a boyfriend, she has a girlfriend she's mad about. did she kill him herself? did she hire somebody? did she get one of the children to do it? these are all my concerns. >> besides, says burbridge, he's seen many people caught by sudden violence and grief, and elberta was agitated, certainly, but to his practiced eye, her emotional reaction was somehow
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flat as if practiced. it bothered him. >> how long had you been home? >> it happened instantly. when we got home, it was like somebody ambushed him. >> the way she told her story about a masked man killing her husband of 42 years. >> it almost seemed like it was rehearsed or like she thought about this and what could i say? >> rehearsed is a good word. >> it sounded that way to you? >> yes, it did. >> but you don't have to take it from the detective. we were able to arrange an interview with elberta, too. >> my whole life was over as i knew it. elberta told us that when she and her husband returned from church that evening they drove through the gate of their property as usual. >> he says i'll get the gate, you get the door. >> did everything look pretty much the same as when you left? >> no. no. it just didn't feel right. i started heading up the stairs and i got all the way to the top of the stairs and i started down the hall when i heard muffled noices. headed right down the stairs, i got back to the bottom of the stairs and i called out to doug, "doug, is somebody here"?
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and i looked to my left. the man was standing right in front of the doorway. >> how far away from you? >> ten feet at the most. nine feet. and i looked at him. and it was a man. all in black. and he had a mask on. and he had a gun pointed where i knew my husband was standing. >> you couldn't see doug. >> i couldn't see doug. i only saw this man in black. he had a mask on. only thing i could see was his eyes. and he looked at me. he never moved the gun. and he blinked three times, and i thought, why is he blinking at me? >> i would think why is that guy in my house holding a gun? >> what i thought was oh, my god, what do i do? he's going to kill me before i get up the stairs. i pulled myself up the rail, up the stairs, because my legs wouldn't work. and i was just starting down the hall when i heard multiple shots. >> did you realize right away what must have happened? >> oh, absolutely.
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i knew my husband had to have been shot. so i thought, i could hide. >> elberta ran toward a closet on the home's second floor, she said, shut the door and called 911. >> my god. he's going to hear me. >> stay on the line for me, okay? >> oh, my god. somebody shot my husband. oh, god hurry. he's going to find me. i'm hiding in the closet. >> okay. i want you to stay on the line. >> do you remember what it felt like in there, what you felt like? >> oh, sheer desperation. just sheer desperation. and this overwhelming need to go to my husband. i wanted to go to him. i wanted to comfort him. i wanted to tell him i loved him. i wanted to tell him, it's going to be okay. i wanted to pray for him. >> oh, please hurry. please. >> when the police arrived, they found elberta in the closet. >> i want to go to my husband. they said they're working on him. and i said no, i want to go see
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him, please let me go to my husband. and they said no, you can't go down there. >> did you ever get to see him that night? >> no. no. >> now elberta found herself face-to-face with detective burbridge, trying to get limb to believe a story about a masked killer who stared right at her and yet left her alive to tell the tale. that sounds a little made up almost. >> yes, it does. sounds hollywood. >> have you ever heard of a case where someone laid eyes on a witness to him killing someone and didn't take any action? >> i've never had that happen. >> so you would have expected -- >> something, yes. at least an attempt. >> but there was something in elberta's story that night that did make sense.
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before the murder as she and doug drove to church she said they saw something out of place. >> there was a van kind of sitting up against the curb. a white van. >> like it didn't belong there or something? >> yeah. >> a white van. as police canvassed the neighborhood after the murder, a witness across the street said she saw it too. >> she had come home around 5:00 that evening and noticed a white van parked in front of her house. and it was parked in a way that made her nervous. to the point she thought maybe someone was breaking in. >> why would she be suspicion of a van? >> a van she'd never seen before, and in that neighborhood, everyone knows everyone. >> the question was, what did the white van have to do with the murder of doug carlile, or the cops wondered with his wife, elberta. coming up, a neighborhood security camera. what tales would it tell? >> we actually saw that suspect and saw the path that he ran. >> could you tell who it was? >> all you could really see is that it was a subject. appeared to be muscular build.
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hill, beat cops and detectives fanned out around a neighborhood utterly unused to violent crime. but downtown at police headquarters. >> this is a secure building. so if you need to go somewhere knock on the door, okay?
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>> i'm in jail? >> the victim's wife, elberta carlile, told a crazy story about a man in black bursting into the house killing her husband, looking her square in the eye but leaving her alive. so, burbridge wondered, did she hire him? >> in my world, wives kill husbands. the relationship is a probability. >> but then up at the house they heard a curious story from a neighbor. that very evening for a couple hours before the shooting a mysterious white van was parked just across the street from the carliles'house. >> 911, what are you reporting? >> hi. i called crimestoppers because there's a suspicious vehicle in front of my house 30 minutes ago and now they just came back and sitting there and i'm really freaked out. >> of course, in many if not most neighborhoods in america, a parked white van might not attract a bit of attention. >> maybe i'm just being
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paranoid, but it's really bizarre that a van would be in this neighborhood. >> but this is the south hill, after wall. nondescript white vans don't just show up and hang around here. so the neighbor noticed. and then doug carlile winds up murdered. >> we didn't know if it was related or not, but it was obviously something that we considered immediately. >> and again, this being the south hill, another neighbor had the wherewithal to provide a special kind of help. >> a homeowner in the neighborhood had a video camera that covered his driveway, and we picked up what we thought was the van about two hours before the murder. >> here it is, that video. and sure enough, a white van coming and going on the streets of south hill that night. but did it have anything to do with the murder? and what about that man in black elberta said she saw? if he actually existed. hired killer or whatever. he must have waited somewhere around the house for the carliles to get back from church.
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he could have killed doug carlile, then possibly escaped in that white van. no one saw anyone going out the front door, but what about back here, behind the house? they called in a tracking dog, stood back and watched. >> basically, the track went through some arbor vitae. over a little fence through the neighbor's back yard. and in the very back corner of their yard is a gate that was left open. and just before the gate there was a puddle of water. and there was a good footprint in that puddle of water. and it was apparent it was fairly recent. >> could be your guy. >> could be our guy. just beyond that, just outside the gate was what appeared to be a welding glove lying in the leaves. >> a welding glove? >> a welding glove. so right away we thought is this something that may have been dropped? but it was odd enough and in a place we knew the suspect had run after the incident that we ended up collecting it as evidence. >> not really knowing whether that had anything to do with your murder. >> correct. we didn't know.
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you know, in something like this, where it's a complete whodunit, you take everything and hope something ends up helping your case. >> they kept looking. so did the dog. just beyond where the welding glove was found was a small wooded area, and across the street, an elementary school which meant maybe the school's security system could get them a picture of the guy. >> another detective was able to get that video, almost immediately. >> and sure enough, when they looked at the video, there he was. >> we actually saw that suspect and saw the path that he ran. >> could you tell who it was or very much about him? >> it was very grainy video. all you could really see was that it was a subject, appeared to be muscular build wearing all black. >> all black. it was hard to make out, but there he was in the video. the elusive man in black running toward a main road. when detective burbridge arrived and got a look at this -- >> i've done a lot of homicides and at that point i thought that this was a professional hit man, probably unrelated to our victim at all or the person involved in this, and i went
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and found my lieutenant. i knew this was going to be a very complicated investigation and we needed a lot more manpower to get very fast on the case further down the road. >> and so in a matter of hours detectives were called in from all over the department, time off was canceled. so many questions to answer. what else did the neighbors see? what did that welding glove have to do with anything? and who was the man in black? and a more basic question. was elberta carlile involved in a plot to kill her husband? >> coming up -- >> the closer i got to the lord, it's like the further we got apart. >> even elberta admits their marriage had seen its share of trouble. >> i did something drastic. i left him without his knowledge. >> take the kids with you? >> of course. >> when "dateline" continues.
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looking for evidence and suspects in the murder of doug carlile, his wife elberta had no idea that her behavior had raised alarms. >> who cares about stupid evidence? >> but police 101. the victim's nearest and dearest often becomes prime suspect number one.
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and elberta, with her wild story, was no exception. then detective burbridge was able to get a close look at the early evidence, and especially that video of the running man in black. and -- >> immediately it became apparent to me that whoever did this had reconnoitered the scene and spent time planning it because of the very elaborate escape route. it made me concerned that elberta was probably telling the truth about who was involved and what happened. >> when he saw all that planning including the videotape showing the man in black he felt it was far less likely that elberta carlile was anything but a victim. but in her brain, while detectives kept going over this question or that, two thoughts blocked out all else, her desire to see her husband and an overwhelming need to tell her children what happened. >> i went to call them and i couldn't see the numbers. i couldn't -- i was just frantic. and i said to the police, help me.
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and then i thought wait, you can't help me, you don't even know who i'm looking for. >> but finally in the town of moses lake the phone rang in the home of shane carlile. >> i received a call from my mother. we were hanging ornaments on the christmas tree. she said in just kind of a screaming panic, shane, your dad, your dad, he was shot six times. >> you called everybody? >> yeah. the thought hadn't even sunk in yet, it was just a straight up okay, let's get to work, let's figure out what we have to do. i started contacting everybody. and you know, to have to listen to everybody's cries and screams over the phone. >> the carliles'eldest was at her daughter's ballet recital. >> he goes dad's been shot. and i said what do you mean dad's been shot? dad has been killed. >> and so she greeted her daughters after the recital with the news about grandpa.
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>> they loved their grandpa. he was the greatest to all three of them. they had really good relationships with them. >> it was a relationship that almost wasn't for any of them. >> doug and bertie, as he liked to call her, were teenaged sweethearts, married young. and as often happens, even as their family grew their marriage shriveled. what happened? >> life happens. >> bertie found god. doug did not. >> the closer i got to the lord, it's like the further we got apart. >> until it became clear to bertie, she won't go into detail, that she and doug were doomed, unless -- >> i did something drastic. i left him without his knowledge. >> take the kids with you? >> of course. >> so you went off on your own with four kids. >> mm-hm. no job, no nothing. yeah. to a city i didn't know.
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>> to seattle. 350 miles from the little town in oregon where they lived back then. her church kept her going. well, doug, here's the story according to bertie. he kept guns, said bertie, lots of them. and lost and alone, he decided to use one on himself. >> as he crawled toward those guns, he said he heard this horrid voice that said "he's mine." and then he heard another voice that said "no, he's not. he belongs to me." and he said it was a thunderous, authoritative, shook the whole room voice. and the next thing he knew, he felt arms picking him up. and putting him on the bed. >> he told you this. >> yes, he told me this months later. >> quite a story. the one that got doug saved and back with his family. after that, he started an excavation business, and as his kids grew up, six of them, many
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followed him. it became the family business. >> he's a salesman, you know. he can talk you into something. >> a charmer. >> yeah. totally. total charmer. >> what was his business philosophy? was he a numbers-crunching guy or was he a handshake guy? >> he was a handshake guy. he expected his word and a handshake was good. and he knew it was. he expected that of others and that isn't always true. >> and there were setbacks. two bankruptcies. trouble with the irs. a string of failed businesses and fallings-out with business partners who accused doug of being less than honest and of not paying his bills. how would doug react to those? >> he never gave up. and we always took care of what we owed. and we would move forward. >> and, as he entered mid-life. doug carlile seemed content doing deals while his sons
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shane and seth ran the business. >> he'd give the shirt off his back to anybody. he just had a huge heart. he had enough room in it for everybody. huge heart. >> and taught you what you know. >> absolutely. every aspect of business. every aspect of life. >> when the kids were grown, doug and bertie ended up in spokane, to be near their favorite church, whose pastor preached the prosperity gospel, that is, the idea that god rewards true belief with financial success. well, they certainly looked successful when they bought that sprawling house on the south hill. >> they wanted to get an older house like that. it's something they loved. but they also always wanted all the family to come for all the holidays and spend it with them. >> so there's a bedroom for everybody. >> we all had our own room. worked out pretty good. >> did it look to you as if your dad and your mom were finally at the place where they were on the top of the hill? >> they were doing the best i ever saw them do. they were happy.
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they had got it. they'd figured it out. >> but now, doug carlile was dead. and detectives tallied up the signs of his earthly wealth. still parked in the drive, elberta's new mercedes. doug's new pickup. and inside in doug's office, documents detailing the family's fortune. >> there was a lot of financial paperwork. and the ones that struck me immediately was there was loan paperwork that it appeared mr. carlile had filled out for different businesses and they had his net value at between 6 and 12 million depending which piece of paper you looked at. >> and then there were the documents the detectives couldn't read. that is, the ones written in arabic. who was doug carlile? successful, god-fearing businessman? or what? coming up -- >> i remember him telling us, you know, i'm going to make millions of dollars, and this is going to be it.
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this is going to be for our family. we're all going to be rich. >> investigators took a hard look at doug's business practices. had he made any enemies? >> they may have a reason to be pretty mad at him. >> our suspect list kept growing. >> i was running this investigation at one point in about eight directions, trying to eliminate a lot of business partners. seeing if mr. carlile had a secret life. >> even seasoned detectives were in for a surprise. >> i just don't believe in coincidences like that. >> when "dateline" continues. when "dateline" continues when "dateline" continues help prevent wrinkles with bounce wrinkleguard, the megasheet with three times the wrinkle fighting ingredients. it was obvious now.
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no getting around it. spokane detectives burbridge and sesnick took a look at the clues dug up that first night. surveillance videos showing a white van circling the area. elberta's story about a masked shooter dressed in black. the video of a black-clad man running away. all that could mean only one thing. this was a hit, a professional killing. which begged the question, why would anyone want to kill a beloved, god-fearing grandfather, murdered while christmas music surrounded his big old house. >> it was almost a surreal scene. the house is decorated for christmas. christmas music playing. >> perhaps some answers would come from what detectives found in doug's office.
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documents half in english, half in arabic. and those they could read were very interesting indeed. >> there was prefilled out paperwork promising 100% return on investment in 90 days if you'd invest in their company. >> so it aparred that your victim had been promising people huge returns on investment. >> correct. he had a whole binder with paperwork and it included names of people who had bought into this and invested. >> wait a minute, who offers a 100% return so fast? was this for real? the names, reports, and records all seemed to be related to one thing. >> we ended up finding a lot of paperwork related to the oil business in north dakota. >> the oil business? why that? doug carlile, remember, was an excavator, not an oil man. but of course a whole army of ambitious, hard-working men had fled established careers to grab for a piece of the wealth dangled so enticingly by north dakota's oil-fracking boom. thus, were prairie towns on sudden steroids and man camps
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bursting with pent-up testosterone. by the time doug met his awful fate in 2013 the wild black gold rush around the bakken oil fields had peaked. but investors looking for a big payday wouldn't have known that yet. and with great was of eager cash they chased a stake in what they hoped might be billions still in the ground. apparently, doug carlile was one of them. according to family, he got turned onto oil by a friend who knew a guy. >> he told us about north dakota. hey, it's booming there. you should go check things out and see what's happening. >> first, doug partnered in a trucking company that served north dakota's many oil rigs. an outfit called blackstone, started by the guy his friend introduced him to. and then opportunity knocked. one of those opportunities of a lifetime, ordained from above, according to doug. >> the whole thing kind of fell into his lap. and i think he thought that that was his calling from god, was to move forward in that
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lease. >> an oil lease, that is. a lease that would give doug and any partners he could bring in the exclusive right to drill for oil on 640 acres of land on the mha indian reservation. the catch was that sort of opportunity doesn't come cheap. so you had to raise some money. >> oh, yeah. the lease was almost $2 million. >> and to raise that doug carlile tapped his friends around washington state, his business partners, even his kids. >> i put $100,000 into it. it wasn't for a return or anything. it was to help him with his dream to fulfill that. >> but the next step to fulfilling doug's dream was even more daunting. finding investors to pay for drilling as many as eight wells on the property. and that price was much steeper. more than $100 million. but the potential payoff was immense. and doug firmly believed god's will a reward for his faith. >> we thought we were walking on water.
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this is a miracle. >> i remember him telling us i'm going to make millions of dollars and this is going to be it and this is going to be for our family and you know, we're all going to be rich. >> we sat on the couch one day and he said, what would you do if you had all the money you could ever want? i said so, if we had this money then we would use it to serve the lord, to serve ministries, to serve people, our family. >> but now all those good intentions, all those dreams were gone. now detectives slogged through the paperwork on doug carlile's desk. those documents in arabic turned out to be a scam a con man was trying to run on doug. but doug they could see had been making promises too to investors. promise he couldn't keep. and he must have known it. 100% return practically overnight? impossible.
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>> many of these were partners who had come in, and now he may have owed them a tremendous amount of money. >> correct. >> they may have a reason to be pretty mad at him. >> and our suspect list kept growing. >> how many partners did that guy have anyway? >> about ten that we could find, there may be more. >> detective burbridge began calling doug's partners and discovered most of them lived in or around washington. any one of them who could be considered a person of interest was hundreds or thousands of miles away from spokane the night doug was murdered. >> it concerned me greatly. i just don't believe in coincidences like that. >> coincidences that they were not there? >> yes, sir. >> that they may have planned not to be there when something happened? >> yes, sir. >> how did you know which one to target? >> i was running this
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investigation in about eight different directions trying to eliminate a lot of business partners, seeing if mr. carlile had a secret life, did he owe somebody else some money, because he had a lot of failed business dealings in his other businesses. and so i had a lot of concerns. >> angry ex-business partners? angry current business partners? what, if anything, did she have to do with it? >> yeah. i mean, obviously, i didn't know at the time what he was doing. >> coming up -- detectives learn about a charismatic couple knee-deep in doug's oil venture. >> they looked like ken and barbie, their perfectly white teeth and tans. >> did they know anything about the murder? and then finally, investigators have someone to question. >> i researched his criminal history and knew he had a very significant criminal history. so i was concerned, was he my hit man? >> we're going to start talking about some things honestly here. >> okay. that's fine. >> people tell me you're the shooter. >> when "dateline" continues. when "dateline" continues when "dateline" continues and it's unlikely to improve without treatment. ingrezza is a prescription medicine to treat adults
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and it's easier than ever to get your projects done right. with angi, you can connect with and see ratings and reviews. and when you book and pay throug you're covered by our happiness check out today. angi... and done. yes elberta carlile was inconsolable. >> instantly, that night, that night, i lost everything. >> elberta's eldest daughter
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melanie left her own family for a while to stay with her mom, try to keep her sane. >> she would wake up screaming every single night. and there was nothing i could do besides just hold her. it was horrible. >> the very thing the carliles hoped would create wealth, security, happiness had brought instead nothing but grief. but remember, this, the evidence suggested, was a hit job. somebody must have ordered doug's execution. so now the detectives try to figure out who. >> did you guys have any disputes with anybody? >> yes. >> inevitable probably, when high stakes investors go after a prize like an oil lease, and doug had been promising potential investors returns that so far just hadn't materialized. any number of partners might have felt they'd been taken for a ride. but who? elberta, who was no longer a suspect, offered a possibility. >> who did he have a dispute with?
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>> his name is james henrikson. >> james henrikson. he was the man who had gotten doug interested in the oil play in the first place. the man with his wife sarah were known as the barbie and ken of the oil patch. this guy worked for them. his name is rick airy. >> for lack of a better term they stuck out like a couple of turds in a punch bowl. >> well, one way to put it. james met sarah at a drive-thru coffee stand. she was a barista. >> what was he like? >> he was very cool, calm, collected, you know. older man, good-looking. it was fun. fun and we'd always go out. he was nice. it was easy. i never thought i'd ever marry him or go do business with him. >> but that's what she did. they moved to the oil patch in 2011, got married in minot, north dakota, and by 2013 he was the charismatic face of a major trucking operation called blackstone, and she was the blond on his arm and the senior
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company official. sarah signed the checks. blackstone was the business doug first invested in, before he got interested in the oil lease. it was a big operation. 100 trucks hauling water to and from oil fracking sites. very profitable. james let it be known that he was backed by a billion-dollar trust fund. >> i was like, this guy's a winner. >> a lot of money around. they were doing well. >> absolutely. >> was your company making money? >> yes, it sure seemed like it. >> and james was tough. and buff. and all man. >> it would be 20 degrees outside and he'd be wearing a t-shirt. everyone else has a little shiver. he's standing there shivering but he's making sure his arms are pumped up. >> he's a buff guy. >> yeah. he wants you to see his guns. he's showing them off. and their perfectly white teeth and their tans. they looked like ken and barbie.
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they didn't fit in at all. >> not a nickname sarah took to, mind you. >> no, i feel like i have somewhat of a brain, i don't want to be called just a barbie. >> well, you're living in a town of men. >> mm-hmm. 92 to 1. >> all jacked up on testosterone. >> oh, yeah. it was rough. i hated it. it was miserable. every day was a plan on how to get out. but -- >> with him presumably? >> yeah, we wanted to leave the oil field, but he just saw so much opportunity and money. he was like one day we'll get there. >> doug carlile liked james and sarah's entrepreneurial style a lot. so when the chance to buy an oil lease came up they went in on it together. james kicked in $600,000. doug only $40,000. they needed $2 million, remember. yet doug was saying he'd be taking over. there were disputes, then, over control and money and accusations flew. in fact, said doug's son seth -- >> he basically said i'm concerned with what james is going to try to do. >> that was serious.
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>> and he said that if anything happens to me, you know, it's james henrikson. >> but like the other partners, james henrikson was far away when doug was killed, 700 miles away in watford city, north dakota. detectives pinged his phone and confirmed it. and then something happened that seemed straight out of some noir detective novel. detective burbridge put out a plea for information from anybody who'd done business with doug carlile, and what do you know? in walked a guy who could just as easily been a murder suspect himself. >> robert, thanks for coming down voluntarily. >> his name was robert delao. career criminal, gang member, and sometimes a police informant. he'd served time in prison on manslaughter, drug, weapons charges. >> i had researched his criminal history and knew he had a very significant criminal history. so i was concerned was he my hit man or what was his involvement in this? >> delao knew doug carlile. he also knew james henrikson. why was he here? to tell the cops just in case
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they were wondering, that he didn't have anything to do with the murder. >> did you drive somebody up there? >> no, no, no, i had nothing to do with it, nothing. >> but burbridge had seen a thing or two. he pushed. >> we're going to start talking about some things honestly. and i'm going to have a heart to heart with you. >> okay. that's fine, that's fine. >> people are telling me you're the shooter. >> i say hell no. you know what? that night i was in watford city, north dakota. >> you went after him pretty hard, right? actually accused him of murder? >> i did. >> how did he respond to that? >> he denied it and didn't even flinch. >> did you think he was your guy? >> i did not think he was the guy. >> so why did you do that? >> sometimes you do things, try to pressure people or put them under pressure to see their reaction. and he did not flinch. >> the detectives asked delao to take a polygraph, and he did.
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did he pass the test? >> yes, he did. >> so curious, certainly, but a real lead? or a dead end? hard to know. so burbridge and his team of investigators kept working other leads. and christmas happened. sort of. >> it was really a rough christmas. i look back on pictures. we had smiles on our faces but you weren't really smiling. and my mom, it was so hard to watch her. because she wanted to give the grandkids gifts but she was just like almost like a zombie. you can't just not have christmas. you know, but nobody felt like it. >> but grief wasn't all the family was feeling. a debilitating fear took hold too. whoever killed their patriarch might not be done. >> we armed ourselves. i spent about $10,000 on a security camera system around the house. went out and bought an attack dog, a german shepherd. >> meanwhile, the detectives hit the road. and that's when they discovered something truly shocking.
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doug carlile wasn't the only victim of the weird goings-on around the oil patch. coming up -- for this investigator, a tantalizing tip at his fingertips. >> i clicked on it and a flyer came up that basically said beware of these two people. >> and then a potential suspect gives cops the brush-off. >> he leaned out the door and slapped me on the shoulder, and then he shut the door. >> when "dateline" continues. when "dateline" continues when "dateline" continues why don't you do cool spins? uh, people need to read it. i can't read it. [ chuckles ] that's 'cause you're like 4. 4 1/2. switch to progressive, and you can save hundreds. you know, like the sign says. if you have to pre-rinse your dishes, you could be using the wrong detergent.
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clarke headed up and disappeared. >> i handed it to mark, what do you think about this. >> what did you think about that? >> it's the first time we had ever heard of that name. >> so who was k.c. clarke. >> he was funny, well mannered. >> it didn't take long to find out, k.c. was an old friend. he moved to the oil pattern specifically where for hendrickson and blackstone. the trucking company. rick kerry knew him all. rick airy knew him well. >> what did you do, the two of you. >> we would go up to the bar, we'd chase the girls, do the normal things a guy would do during a boom, you know. >> rick and k.c. were field truck intendents for the trucking company which sarah was helping to run. >> how were you involved in the business? >> i worked directly with the
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accountant, make sure they got signed off so we got paid. make sure payroll was signed off to the accountant, sort of the middle man. >> you were a minor partner, if i can put it that way. >> it was a james show for sure. as much as people saw me all the time. >> time off was rare, eventually they made plans to work for a rival company. >> he was extremely worried about james finding out about this whole transition. >> on february 22nd, 2012, k.c. dropped briefly into blackstone's headquarters, and then was gone so did he leave in a huff or was it something else because nobody ever saw him again. >> no sign. he had been missing for a year, two years at this point. >> was henrikson questioned? >> he had taken a polygraph. >> and he passed. . >> yes, and so the two detectives got in the car and
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drove 700 miles so watford city, minnesota their destination, the home of james with the until i thought it was like 60 below when we were there. henrikson, and sarah. >> in the garage was like a 2-year-old bentley, flat tires, kind of almost laying on its belly. >> a bentley, an almost new bentley. obviously not taken care of at all? >> no. >> sarah answered the door, very pleasant, said the detectives and went to get james. >> how did james henrikson greet you, did he, you know, tell you a story, sit you down for a cup of tea, what. >> he leaned out the door, slapped me on the shoulder, and said, it's too bad you drove all the way, my attorney told me not to talk you. >> you got nothing. >> got not. our reception that might tell you something or not? >> he was a big man, 5'10" of steroided rock muscle. he bragged he was benching over
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500 pounds and he looked like it. i don't intimidate, can i grew werewolf fangs. when he was shot and credible little me. >> nothing to do but suck it up and drive the 700 miles home. on the way home, detective sesnik got a blood clot that nearly killed him. a month at the dog carlile's murder, me they had suspects, but nothing that was coming together. >> coming up, finally a clue, and it's a big one. >> the very top of the paper is the word glove, and then there's she'll get away rude on google earth, practice with pistol. >> what killer makes a to do list. >> who does it point to? >> jackpot. >> jackpot. >> when "dateline" continues.
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spokane detectives burbridge and sesnick got back to grunt work. >> sesnick recovering from a blood clot. >> i got ordered to got home, but a lot of times over the next couple of days. obviously i wasn't going
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anywhere. yeah >> the case? well, they knew they had something but what exactly? >> it was just one of those cases where we knew we were on the right track, but we also knew that there was a lot of work left. >> and for the carliles, a lot of grief. alberta was a barely functioning mess. >> i didn't lose just my dad. i lost my mom, too. because she wasn't the same person for a really long time. >> and adding insult, doug's secrets were exposed for the whole world to see. that big house on the south hill, heavily mortgaged. the fancy cars not paid for. the paperwork that claimed he was worth millions, a facade. doug carlile was flat broke. hadn't even bought life insurance. >> do you ever feel angry at all at doug for not providing more for like a insurance policy or something? >> no, not at all. because he was a very good provider all the days that he was alive.
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and i really didn't believe in insurance policies like that. i believed in trusting the lord for our finances, and that's what we did. >> secrets, just another casualty, as the little army of detectives searched the neighborhood for clues, like for example the strange find that turned up in the killer's escape path. that weirdly out of place welding glove. they swabbed it for dna on the off chance, really, just a shot in the dark, that something in or on that glove might match dna on a felon stored in a data bank. and it did. timothy suckow. he was a violent individual, but to prison for robbery. >> what did you think when you found this out? >> i thought this could be our guy. >> was he local? >> he was local. >> he was working at irs environmental, an asbestos removal company.
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they don't drive around in white vans, by any chance, do they? >> >> i checked that list, and lo and behold, they owned a vehicle that matched our vehicle in the video. >> well, well, well, what were the chances. timothy suckow must have been the -- muscular man in black running for dear life toward the equally mysterious van. we looked him up, he had a house in the, suburb house kids. >> we had the swat team sitting on him. we didn't want to take him to his house. >> when suckow and another man went to the house, they moved in. they photographed his many tattoos. >> mr. suckow is a hardened prison type individual, 275 pounds of solid muscle. few minutes we have some people were to deal and to settle. and tell you what's going on.
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when the interview began detectives made no bones about it, they thought they had suckow, dead to rights. >> today is the day to help you out. i didn't come to you by accident. my killer left something up at the house, and your dna is all over it. no joke. the van at your work that you drive is on my video up there. >> you guys are scaring me now. you're looking at federal conspiracy to commit murder, fraud, life and present. -- a 20-dollar before we even do anything? >> that's your choice. >> these are serious accusations that you're saying. >> at this point we're probably beyond accusations at this point. okay. you can help yourself out. >> take me to jail, said in court, because you guys are not
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on a trail. >> i'm not keeping anything from you, abdominal up there. -- take it to court >> timothy suckow was done talking. >> he looked at me and went to sleep. it's like a big emotional release that it's finally over. >> detectives rounded occupy search warrants for suckow's house and his car. >> in his car we found a very significant piece of evidence. >> what is that? >> a piece of notebook paper with a list of items to be done. the top of the paper is the word glove with a question mark, and there's statements about wing man, she'll get away rude on google earth, practice with a pistol. >> that's like a confession on a note pad. >> it was a to do list of how to prepare this murder. what did you think when you saw that? >> it's almost hollywood, like it was shocking. >> this is a month after the murder, and we arrest who we
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believe is our shooter, and he has a to-do kill list in his car. you can't make this stuff up. >> suckow also had a storage unit where a surveillance camera picked up a white van pulling up soon after the murder. suckow had to be their shooter. the question was who put him up to it and why. suckow wouldn't tell them, refused to say a word, so then they got a search warrant for his phone. >> his contact list said james in md. >> jackpot. >> jackpot. that was the first time we had ever connected him with henrikson. >> james and sarah arrived to become the ken and barbie of the oil patch, and before long, one man is missing, another is dead, and the suspected hitman has james on speed dial. and as for sarah, there was a shock in store for her, too.
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>> i mean, emotionally to deal with. >> oh, absolutely. it's ruined my life. >> coming up, sarah becomes suspicious about her husband. >> did you think at the time i wonder if james had something to do with this? >> it seemed fishy to me. >> then she get a call from the sheriff. >> he said you need to come to my office right this second. >> when "dateline" continues. when "dateline" continues when "dateline" continues it's a buick. we need snacks for the team. alexa, take us to the nearest grocery store. getting directions. alexa will get us there in no time. it's a buick. let's be real. don't make me turn this alexa around. oh my. it's painful. the buick enclave, with available alexa built in. ask “alexa, tell me more about buick suvs.” (dana)it's very difficult for the family because you too go through everything that they go through. maybe not in the same way. but you're still there. (announcer) you can quit. for free help,
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what's happening, president biden says the fda is taking steps to get significantly more baby formula back on the shelf for and weeks. the administration is working to speed up manufacturing and imports, but says that they have to move cautiously to make sure the product is quote, first rate. and finland and sweden's to join nato hit a snag friday when turkey's president signaled a objection. the nordic countries of organizing terrorist organizations. unanimous approval from all 30 member states to join.
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now back to dateline. ♪ ♪ ♪ sometimes the best detective is named luck. a dropped welding glove leads to a tattooed hitman named timothy suckow. whose phone provides a direct connection to the man who may have ordered murder of doug carlisle, james henrikson in south dakota. he may have been able to rule out business partners in washington state. at this point did you feel you had the outlines of what the conspiracy was. >> i felt we had a good idea of what was going on. it turned out to be a lot more. >> a sentiment which when the investigation turned back to north dakota, sarah, aka, mrs. james henrikson, could have put in exactly the same words but for more personal reasons. >> best i remember there was rumors of james having an affair.
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>> it's an old story, of course. husband cheats on wife with a younger woman. even younger than sarah, who was only in her 20s. >> what was it like to hear that he was cheating on you in the first place? >> it was hurtful, but it was so off the wall, i just didn't believe it. >> like generations of wives before her, until the truth was impossible to avoid. >> what was that like to hear? >> horrific, and especially when i found out with who, i just thought absolutely not. no way. >> wouldn't believe it. >> wouldn't believe it. i mean, she was like my little sister. >> this is her, the young woman in the unpleasant little triangle. but she wasn't just some other woman. this is payton martin, daughter of tex hall, the chief of the mha nation on who the travel land was the oil lease, the one james wanted so badly. payton was 19.
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>> you knew her? >> i had family vacationed with her quite a bit. >> in fact, here they are in hawaii, james in the water, sarah there on the paddle board and there on another board was payton. >> i think i found a picture of her on facebook where she was pregnant so i called her and asked her. and she said it's none of my business, but if it's my husband's get over it. >> payton denied saying that, by the way. but when the baby was born, a very healthy and happy looking little boy, james and payton named him. >> bentley of all things. >> bentley, just like that expensive automobile james bought for sarah, then left in the garage with flattened tires. >> you can't make it up. >> it's weird. it's so strange. >> bentley. >> yeah. >> as you can see, he was the one who wanted the car and the
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name and the show. >> chief tex hall as you might imagine was not pleased about any of that. he banished james from the reservation. but there was something near tex nor sarah knew just then, not just that the spokane cops were investigating sarah's wayward husband, out on the north dakota prairie, another law man had been poking around for more than a year, homeland security agent derek trudel had heard from a colleague about the missing casey clark, and the ripoff report and other possible crimes. >> he told me the story and it just sounded unbelievable, is what it did. he was hooked. >> by the time burbridge started showing up, trudel could tell him a thing or two about james henrikson. >> how would you describe him? >> he comes across as a, i mean, just. >> you're at a loss for words. >> you could say that he comes across as a used car salesman, but that's not fair to used car salesmen. the guy is just, he's a scum
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bag. >> by the time doug carlisle was murdered, trudel had just coincidence been on james'trail for a year, looking at possible illegal drug imports and the mysterious disappearance of friend and employee casey clark. he had to look like henrikson was acting like a latter day outlaw. >> he's a sociopath, the guy is a coward, he didn't get his hands dirty in any of it. >> trudel suspected henrikson may have ordered someone to kill casey clark. then, doug carlisle was murdered out in washington, and trudel began working with detective burberry. if timothy succo was the hitman, did he kill clark, too. >> they checked mr. suckow's number at the time
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against the phone records they had acquired back when mr. clark disappeared and mr. suckow's number was in those records. >> meaning suckow was in the area when casey clark disappeared. sarah, meanwhile, her marriage falling apart, had begun to harbor suspicions about james, and not just his cheating ways. it went back to the day james told her about doug carlisle's death. >> he walked into the room, doug's dead, straight face, nothing. it was the strangest thing ever. >> did you think at the time i wonder if james had something to do with this? >> you know, it seemed fishy to me. it did, but again, your life is already crumbling, you don't want to think your husband could be doing anything like that. >> what did you get out of that marriage? >> i was scared of him, you know. everyone wants the fairy tale,
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everyone wants to be married with a good life with kids, and it kind of came crashing quickly. >> finally, sarah started talking about divorce. >> i told him, and he'd be like, how are you going to feel you divorce me, and you find out all of this isn't true and the kid's not mine and you'll be the horrible person and i'm going to destroy you. he was very threatening. >> was he serious? a month after the murder of doug carlisle, january 2014, sarah got a call from her local sheriff. >> he said you need to come to my office right this second. >> coming up, sarah gets some frightening news. >> homeland security was waiting for me, and they were like, your husband is trying to have you killed today. >> what was that moment like for you? >> doesn't seem real. it's like a movie. >> when "dateline" continues. when "dateline" continues
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turn. with investigators in two states closing in, her husband james had vanished. their marriage was on life support, and she had just been summoned by her county sheriff. >> so i went into his office and homeland security was waiting for me, and they were like sit down, we need to talk to you. and they said we just received in the last ten minutes that your husband is trying to have you killed today. >> sarah, on a hit list. but why? sarah had a pretty good idea. >> they wanted all the money. and he knew i had it locked up with the divorce getting ready. so get her out of the way and we'll get the assets. so they could run to brazil. >> but sarah, marked for death, yes, the sheriff told her, she was supposed to die that very day.
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>> what was that moment like for you? >> i can't even describe it. doesn't seem real. it's like a movie. i sat there and spoke with them all day. and i had asked can i call someone, like i don't know what to do. they said, nope, we have to take you into a safe home. >> call no one. >> hmm-mm. >> not even your mom. >> nope, no one. because they were afraid that james could harass my family and friends to find my location, because once he realized i wasn't responding to him, he went into panic mode. he didn't know if i was working with the police, if i was dead, if i was on the run. >> the cops knew her husband was lurking somewhere out there, but they couldn't find him. >> he was harassing a lot of my friends and family, trying to see if they had heard from me, which they hadn't. >> they tried a ruse to throw james off the scent. >> they drove me to the border in canada to make it look like i had, like, jumped the border
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to see if james would chase me. >> he did not. but where was he? no one seemed to know. was sarah close enough so they could actually see her, investigators tried to track her husband's phone. >> you're sitting in homeland security's office and you're listening to them ping him across the state, and he's on the run, he's on the move. i think a car backfired in the parking lot, and all the agents pull their guns out and run to the windows because they don't know if james is in town. it's a surreal thing. >> even if they found him, they couldn't charge with murder or conspiracy, didn't have enough evidence of that. but they did have something quite useful. a few days earlier, search warrant in hand, state and federal agents, including homeland security's derrick trudel descends on james and sarah's empty house. >> what did you find? >> some financial records, some
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firearms. >> some firearms? >> yeah, i can't remember the exact number of them. >> if there's one there, he's a convicted felon right? >> grounds for immediate arrest. >> agents fanned out around north dakota and in a few days later in a mill place called mandan, there he was. >> what was he doing? >> he was over at his girlfriend's friend's apartment. >> the apartment of a friend of payton, the chief's daughter. >> we had guys staked out around it doing surveillance on it, and as we drove by, i recognized him. and that was him. >> on the street. >> walking on the street, yeah. he hopped out, told him to turn around, show me his hands. >> he was surrounded by cops, guns drawn and pointed, so what happened then was very odd. >> he had his hands in his pockets and so kept telling him to show me his hands. he wouldn't show me both hands at the same time, he's got a stupid smirk on his face. >> he's playing with you. .
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>> eventually enough is enough, we helped him to the ground, put handcuffs on him. he's smiling up at me, and asked me, you know, like, hey, how are you. he instantly went into, like, trying to charm us. >> trying to pull a con on the cop. >> i don't know if he thought he was going to build rapport with me and a relationship and we were going to be buddies. >> bizarre, though the arrest was james henrikson was at least in custody, and sarah, no choice, they told her, had to stay in deep cover herself, hiding in a secret shelter, unable to call friends or even her parents, just in case the hit was still a go. >> i had a bunch of friends call the sheriff and the police and they were asking, they said, we think that he's had her killed, will you drive around and look in ditches, because no one was allowed to know. they wanted him to think that it had gone through to see what he would do. >> i can't imagine what it would be like for your family. >> it was hard for them.
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>> and james agreed very civilized to talk to investigators. but what he did not do. [laughs] >> you guys are 100% sure that you can protect me? >> was tell them the real story of what he had been up to. >> it had to do with the cartel and the m.a. that's it. you know what that is, right? >> the mexican mafia and drug cartel. >> he gave us a story. he talked about the cartels, the triad, all these organized crime groups that he implied having connections to. >> i don't know. if i go through with it, i'm not that worried about it. you guys, you know, put all the charges that you want on me, and, like, you know if i don't say anything, i don't say anything. whatever, they kill me. >> did he think you were buying it?
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>> in his mind he thought we were buying it. it's so outlandish, nobody is going to believe that. >> trouble was, investigators in north dakota and spokane still didn't have enough solid evidence to tie james henrikson to the murders of k.c. clark and doug carlisle. for that they would have to keep digging while henrikson waited in jail. that is, if they could keep him there while he had other ideas. >> coming up, preparing for the great escape. >> they knocked out that window, dropped some bed sheets down to the ground. >> nine stories. >> oh, my god. >> when "dateline" continues. when "dateline" continues when "dateline" continues's time to make a stand. start a new day with trelegy. ♪...and i'm feelin' good. ♪
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encountered, the man had an attitude, as trudel discovered, he was an inept criminal, rarely seemed to get his schemes to work. >> it's like a tragic comedy, when you see the group of people involved with this case. >> the time they put out a hit on another business partner but the hitman runs off with the money. >> the guy rips them off for $10, 000, and as he said, it was the easiest $10,000 he ever made. >> gradually agent trudel and spokane detectives burbridge and sesnick amassed circumstantial evidence to show henrikson for all of his criminal fumbling did orchestrate two murders, k.c. clark and doug carlisle. it was not quite enough circumstantial evidence to take to trial, until finally, the break they needed. >> i didn't to do any of this stuff. i don't know why i did it.
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>> timothy succo, remember him, admitted he killed both victims on orders from james henrikson. and the middleman caved too, robert deleo, the man who came snooping around the investigation a couple of days after the carlisle murder and passed a polygraph, which might say something about polygraphs. he admitted he recruited suckow, and transmitted henrikson's orders and the money. >> how did tim get paid for k.c., do you know? >> s it was cash. >> so september 2014, nine months after his arrest on weapons charges, james henrikson was flown from north dakota to spokane, washington, and charged with multiple federal counts of conspiracy, solicitation, and murder for hire in the deaths of k.c. clark and doug carlisle, and attempts on the lives of three more business partners. he was not charged, however, with trying to kill his wife, sarah, because, said the
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prosecutors, they went with the charges that were easiest to prove. so henrikson was toast unless, as he sat in the spokane jail awaiting trial, henrikson did his best to see that the trial would never happen. >> he tried to hire people to attack the marshal van that was transporting him between our jail and the u.s. courtroom, shoot the driver, set fire to the van and break him out the back of it while the van's on fired. >> good lord. >> he was letting on that he had a lot of money, and in jail, obviously it doesn't take too long to find people that will bite on that. unfortunately he found one that also needed help with his current charges so he turned him in pretty quickly. >> thus the plan was foiled. >> yes. >> but henrikson wasn't done. >> he was in a cell with another person suspected of murder.
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our spokane county jail, there are windows in each of the cells, they knocked out that window, dropped some tied together bed sheets down to the ground. >> nine stories. >> oh, my god. >> some people showing up for work at the jail saw the rope hanging out the window. >> can you see anybody squeezing through a window that size. >> they're purposely designed so an adult human head can't fit out that window. there's no way they could get out the window. >> they could have charged him for escape attempts, they didn't. the prosecutor had bigger things to do, and finally, in january 2016, james henrikson encountered them. >> i was so mad i couldn't see straight. >> doug carlisle's still grieving family. >> i had to close my eyes several times and say a prayer, god, cut me down. i wanted to put my hands on him for sure. >> then you'd be in trouble. >> it would be worth it. >> federal prosecutors scott jones were, however, not exactly confident about their case. >> proving k.c. clark's murder was the toughest
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part that i was thinking of. we didn't have a body. we had no forensic evidence. >> so to get a conviction, they would need these two sketchy characters who allegedly on orders from henrikson had done some truly awful things. if they didn't tell the story and make the jury believe it, henrikson would get away with murder, but if they did tell it, what sort of credibility with would a person like that have? >> my concern is our most important witness is going to admit that he killed two people, literally beat k.c. clark's brains out. >> how do you handle that? >> you have to embrace it. our number two witness had a tattoo on his back of him urinating on the headstone of the last guy he killed. these are our two star witnesses. >> still, tim suckow was by far the most important witness. could tell the jury chapter and verse about the many twisted and homicidal plots set in motion by james henrikson. two nights before the trial was to begin, attorneys jones and amed went to see suckow, prepare him for his testimony, and that's where it all went
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south. suckow is bipolar. >> he was laying down on the floor of the prison cell in the fetal position, and so this is two days before our star witness is going to testify, and he's basically sucking his thumb on the floor of a jail cell. i mean, we're there at 10:00 at night, trying to make sure that this guy gets his medication so he could effectively testify before a jury. >> would james henrikson, the desparado of the oil patch go free. >> the entire courtroom stunned. >> i decided james henrikson was crazy. i didn't know he was that crazy. >> when "dateline" continues. when "dateline" continues
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tim suckow to testify at the trial of the man accused of paying him to kill two people. he was off his meds, he was a mess emotionally. so when the trial began in federal court, no cameras allowed, the prosecutors held their breath. and suckow, back on his meds came through, and in court, he repeated just what he said here in his pretrial interviews, that he met deleo when they both worked for the company that owned the white van he drove the night he shot doug carlisle. a year before that job, he says, deleo told him he could make money for roughing up some guy in north dakota, but then the boss, that is james henrikson changed the plan. >> he started telling me about k.c., how he was threatening to leave the company, take some of the truckers with him. and that's when he asked me if i'd kill him.
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>> so when k.c. showed up at james'office before going on vacation, suckow was behind the door with a heavy truck jack. >> and i hit him in the back of the head, and he stumbled and fell. he tried to get up and i hit him about or four more times. he stopped moving. >> they ditched k.c.'s truck in a nearby town says suckow, and they took k.c.'s body to a lonely spot 20 miles out of town. suckow said he did the digging while henrikson stood nearby. >> i remember standing in the hole, and he said something like how much is this going to cost me, and i said, $20,000. and he choked.
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20,000? it's first-degree murder, man, it's the death penalty. and i turned back around, took a couple more shovel loads and turned back at him, and said don't shoot me in the back of the head while i'm digging this hole. he really should have. >> anyway, he said, he got the 20 grand, and he burned the bloody clothes. investigators found buttons and other evidence of that burn pile. though they took suckow out to the prairie twice to look for the burial site, they never found k.c. clark's body. >> k.c. clarke was simply killed for the reason that he just wanted to leave james henrikson's appointment. >> so i'm going to kill him. >> it was like a jealousy
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cheating spouse kind of thing. >> and why according to the prosecutors did james henrikson want doug carlisle killed? >> he really thought that the oil deal they were involved with was worth tens of millions of dollars, and he thought that doug carlisle was standing in the way of him getting most, a large share of those tens of millions of dollars. >> mr. carlisle had already threatened mr. henrikson that he was going to get him out of the oil drilling business. >> and that was the thing that triggered this whole bids. >> yeah, they were each trying to get each other out of the deal. >> at the trial, prosecutors
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introduced hundreds of text message, an almost play by play account as the plan rolled out. >> you can watch a text message go from henrikson to deleo, and the content is passed to suckow and back other way, negotiations over payment, who's going to be there, does he have an alarm system. >> so when doug carlisle returned from church that evening in december, suckow was waiting, he brought a heavy welding glove in case he had to punch in a window. he didn't have to. >> and i told him to back up and get in the house. and i saw mrs. carlisle come into sight from the hallway. she backed away. and mr. carlisle moved his hand, and i panicked. i fired, and it seemed like the fourth shot, and he didn't move. i ran fast. >> and then, somehow the welding glove got left behind, the glove that revealed suckow's dna, and broke the case. >> without the glove, we would probably be unsolved to this day. >> and what could have happened then? james henrikson according to prosecutors was a very dangerous man, was actively planning more murders. eventually, they said, had suckow not lost his welding glove, henrikson might have
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become that worst of all criminals. >> a serial killer is someone who causes the death or murder of three people, and he certainly got an a for effort because he tried. there are about eleven people that we know of that he tried to have murdered. >> james henrikson's defense attorneys declined our request for an interview, but they blamed the murders on suckow and deleo, not henrikson, and essentially argued the jury should not believe two such unsavory killers. elberta carlisle watched the trial play out day after day, same prayer on her lips. >> i prayed for justice for my husband. i prayed that the truth would come forth and that there would be a way to go on in life. >> deliberations took less than a day. on all eleven counts, murder for hire, solicitation, conspiracy, and more, the jury found james henrikson guilty. >> we wanted to jump up and down and clap, you know, as a family because our whole family was there. it was great. >> in the weeks that followed, robert deleo the go-between was sentenced to 22 years in prison. when timothy suckow, the hitman, faced the judge. >> the only thing that he ever
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asked for was that we do what we can to ensure that he was sent to a prison with appropriate mental health facilities so he could figure out what was wrong with him. >> then in court, he turned around and faced elberta. >> he said please forgive me, i'm so sorry for what i have done. >> did he seem genuine? >> he did. he said it in tears, and he said i can't forgive myself, but can you forgive me, and i told him yes. i said god forgives you and i forgive you. >> 30 years for tim suckow. when it was james henrikson's turn, a ripple ran through the court, would he ask forgiveness, admit guilty, apologize, reveal the location of k.c. clarke's body, no, not a chance. >> he read a short story that was very graphic about abortion.
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so much so that everybody in the courtroom was very uncomfortable with what he was saying, and i think he just did that purposely upset people. >> i had decided long before then that james henrikson was crazy. i didn't know he was that kind of crazy. >> henrikson will leave prison only in a box having received two consecutive life sentences. he's chosen not to appeal. and here in the vast north dakota grasslands, k.c. clarke's friends and family are still searching, vowing to stay with it until they find him. >> you just want to, all right, james, you son of a bitch, we're going to get him ourselves. we're going to bring him home and finally get closure for everybody here. >> and elberta. >> sometimes grief overwhelms me, i'm just in a pile of tears, and i have not lived alone ever. >> takes some figuring out.
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>> it takes some figuring out. >> sarah, thoroughly investigated was held blameless, not involved in james'violent conspiracies, though in the community, and among some in law enforcement, suspicion lingers. in june 2017, she pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud. sarah was sentenced to three years of probation, and ordered to pay over $340,000 in restitution. >> so as you look at all of these events and you think, gosh, what sin did i commit to during this spot, what would you say? >> i trusted a con artist. i trusted a sociopath. since i married the monster, some people think i should be one too. but i'm not. >> wreckage, lots of it, once upon a time, in a flat and gracious land where tough men wrestle for oil, murderous ambition bubbled up with the
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crude, and made a play as old as human kind. >> what was it all about, really? why? >> greed. plain and simple, it just came down to greed. it was all about money. >> i'm craig melvin. >> and i'm natalie morales. >> and this is "dateline. " everyone says that you and your sister were your mom's life. >> yeah. amazing person. committed to family, committed to my sister and i, and then five years later, gone. >> she was a gorgeous girl. a model who became a mom. >> said you guys made some good looking kids. >> oh, they sure did. >> on the eve of her son's 5th birthday she vanished. >> the whole time we're all try


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