Watford City man hired gunman, investigators say
BISMARCK — A Watford City man linked to a suspected murder-for-hire scheme in Washington state was ordered held without bail Tuesday after the judge heard that he threatened several people and told authorities his arrest put others in danger because of his connections to organized crime in California.
Records from the homicide investigation also include an interview with an informant who says James Terry Henrikson, 34, wanted to have Tex Hall, chairman of the Three Affiliated Tribes on the Fort Berthold Reservation, killed, and also connects Henrikson to a man who disappeared last year near Williston.
Henrikson hasn’t been charged in the death of Doug Carlile, who was found shot to death on the kitchen floor of his Spokane, Wash., home on Dec. 15.
However, court documents suggest investigators believe Henrikson may have hired out the killing to 50-year-old Timothy Suckow, who was arrested Jan. 14 and charged with first-degree premeditated murder in Spokane County Superior Court.
Henrikson is charged in U.S. District Court in Bismarck with being a felon in possession of a firearm.
During a hearing Tuesday, U.S. Postal Inspector Thomas Irvin testified that he’s been investigating the business activities of Henrikson and his wife, Sarah Creveling, since June. The allegations include mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering.
Authorities got a warrant and searched their Watford City home Jan. 14, finding seven guns — including an assault-style rifle — and a large amount of ammunition in a black gun safe in a bathroom off the master bedroom, Irvin said.
Henrikson is barred from having guns because of his extensive criminal record that includes felony convictions in Oregon for unlawful manufacture of marijuana, eluding, burglary, assault and theft.
Agents with Homeland Security Investigations and the Bismarck/Mandan Metro Area Narcotics Task Force arrested Henrikson on Jan. 18 in Mandan, after which he made the comment about organized crime to an agent, Irvin said.
Irvin also was allowed to testify about Henrikson’s alleged connection to Carlile’s killing, over the objection of public defender Bill Schmidt, who stressed that Henrikson hasn’t been charged in the case.
According to Irvin’s testimony and court documents:
Carlile, Henrikson and two other men went into business together in North Dakota’s oilfields, starting a trucking company and then an oilfield development company. Carlile recruited investors, including Henrikson and his wife, to buy mineral rights on 640 acres on the Fort Berthold Reservation in western North Dakota.
After their business relationship soured, one of Carlile’s sons told investigators that his father had lined up an investor to buy Henrikson out of the oil fields and that Henrikson wasn’t happy about it.
Another of Carlile’s sons said Henrikson showed up at his work office in late August or early September and demanded $400,000, saying if he didn’t pay, “Something bad could happen” to him and his family. Carlile reportedly said, “If I disappear or wake up with bullets in my back, promise me you will let everyone know that James Henrikson did it.”
On the night Carlile was shot and killed by an armed intruder, Henrikson told a detective that he and Carlile had an oil lease together and that Carlile owed him $1.88 million. He said he was very angry with Carlile and frustrated that Carlile didn’t pay people the money they were owed, but he denied ever threatening Carlile and said he didn’t kill him and didn’t know why someone would hurt him.
An informant told investigators he had personally heard Henrikson threaten to kill Carlile and hurt his entire family. Authorities searching Suckow’s phone found Henrikson’s number in his contacts under “James ND.”
The informant also said one of Henrikson’s employees, who has the words “Mexican mafia” tattooed on the back of his head and bragged that he’d been to prison for murder, said sometime in mid-September that Henrikson approached him and asked him if he knew someone who would kill Tex Hall, chairman of the Three Affiliated Tribes on the Fort Berthold Reservation.
Henrikson and two other people who worked for Maheshu Energy, an oil company controlled by Hall, are under federal investigation for allegedly defrauding the company out of millions of dollars, court documents state.
The employee denied that Henrikson ever asked him to find someone to kill anybody.
Hall said last week that he has no connection or affiliation with any gangs and has been fully cooperating with investigators for several months “to make sure that justice is swiftly and fully served in this case and that the victims’ families see the justice they deserve.”
Court records say Henrikson also is a suspect in the disappearance of 29-year-old Kristopher “K.C.” Clarke, a former operations manager for Henrikson’s trucking firm who was last seen Feb. 22, 2012. Irvin said Clarke told a roommate that if something should happen to him, Henrikson would be responsible.
Irvin said Henrikson is known to use multiple aliases, and an investor said Henrikson has talked about having a “stash” and that he would flee rather than face prosecution.
Several witnesses interviewed by investigators in the case now fear for their safety, including Henrikson’s wife, he said.
“And in fact some of the witnesses are carrying firearms for their protection,” he said, adding threats also had been made against Creveling.
Schmidt said a lot of the evidence was speculative and hearsay, and he recommended Henrikson be placed at a halfway house with no work release.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Gary Delorme asked that Henrikson remain in federal custody, referring to the alleged threats by Henrikson and his history of failing to appear for court.
Magistrate Judge Charles S. Miller concluded that Henrikson is a flight risk and a danger to the community and ordered him held until further court proceedings.
Miller said he didn’t consider the Clarke case and made no conclusion about Henrikson’s possible involvement in Carlile’s death in reaching his decision.